Almost everyone has been hurt at some point by the discovery of a secret, a distorted truth, a lie, and/or something that should have been talked about openly. Dishonesty hurts because it undermines relationships, breaks trust and destroys intimacy. Instead of feeling secure in the fact that you know the other person and are known by them in turn, you have doubts about them and no longer feel safe in the relationship.
Honesty is a facet of moral character that connotes positive and virtuous attributes such as integrity, truthfulness, straightforwardness, as well as the absence of lying, cheating, stealing, etc. Honesty also involves being trustworthy, loyal, fair, and sincere. Honesty is a choice; it is an acquired trait.
WHY CHOOSE HONESTY?
Being honest isn’t always easy, otherwise, we would all be honest. However, here are five main reasons why honesty is important:
- Honesty is the foundation for lasting relationships in any context whether with family members, friends or romantic interests. Honesty is the voice of love that builds trust. Without it, even “I love you” becomes a lie in itself and there’s no real security in relationships.
- People can’t read your mind. Being honest doesn’t just mean telling factual information but also the way you feel. If you were hurt by something someone did, he or she may not realize it until you are honest with him or her about how it affected you. If you hide the way you feel instead, you disempower the other person from doing something about the problem and refuse the relationship the opportunity to grow. He or she may also feel hurt if he or she realizes you were upset with them but said nothing, or if he or she knows you’re not being honest with them about the way you feel. This could fester and damage the relationship. On the other hand, being honest about your feelings can bring healing, solve a problem, renew hope and foster good communication.
- When people don’t know the truth, they try to guess the truth. That is, not being honest about something makes people try to figure out what you’re not saying, or what the truth is. This breeds gossip which can foster lies that others mistake as truth. Finally, this causes many more people to feel hurt and betrayed when the truth is revealed, all of which could have been avoided if honesty was shown in the first instance.
- People are usually more hurt by the concealment of the truth than the truth itself. Some people lie because they’re afraid that the truth will get them in trouble or cause another pain, but more often than not, while the truth may be painful, it is usually less painful when delivered honestly than when it is wrapped in deception. Holding back or lying to cover up only causes people to feel betrayed and hurt, and to question why you weren’t honest with them in the first place.
- Being honest improves relationships and saves us from having to live as liars. A lie rarely stops at one; one is usually needed to cover another, and this continues until it spirals out of control. It becomes complicated for the one who started the lie and confusing for the one(s) being lied to. On the other hand, being honest about difficult situations may be uncomfortable at first, but if worked through, relationships are strengthened, trust is built and love is deepened.
Although the words, “I’m sorry,” can ameliorate certain ugly situations, they can’t heal rifts or set things back to order before they went to hell. If someone finds out that you have lied to them, they may never fully trust you again, never. Even if you spend the rest of your life being a paragon of honesty and integrity, the person you lied to may always wonder if you’re being dishonest on some level. You may be sincere to your very marrow, but they may never have faith in you again…
Can you live with that?
Folakemi Oyeyemi is an Associate Solutions Architect at Lead Resources, a strategic human capital development social enterprise that helps organizations become the best they can be using world-class tools and practices. She is a Mathematician and is also passionate about entrepreneurship.