Honesty...Is It REALLY the best policy?

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    Dec 14, 2008 4:31 AM GMT
    Honesty- is the human quality of communicating and acting truthfully related to truth as a value. This includes listening, and any action in the human repertoire — as well as speaking. Superficially, honesty means simply stating facts and views as best one truly believes them to be. It includes both honesty to others, and to oneself (see: self-deception) and about one's own motives and inner reality. Honesty, at times, has the ability to cause misfortune to the person who displays it. Honesty can also mean fairness, and truthfulness, and the avoidance of misleading people.


    In all of my years, as I am getting older & somewhat wiser, I have come to learn that honesty plays a major part in my life. I used to be the tall-tale kid in high school & trust, I cried wolf. Since then I have learned the way you're supposed to...the way that life teaches you & the only way to learn that is to fall hard on your ass.

    Some look at it like this...

    You tell one lie, you've got to tell 20 more to cover the first one you've told. Then you've got to tell another 20 to start covering the first 1st of the 20 you've already told & the cycle continues & so on...When you lie to people, it makes them doubt everything you say or ever said before, therefore, the trust issue arises. It is rather funny when someone asks you for the truth, they really expect you to lie to them with a straight face.

    You tell the truth, in their eyes for a copout, because people don't like what they don't expect to hear, you're either bitter, cynic or jaded & yet, the same ones who call you the aforementioned are the very ones who will look at your being honest as a front or a defense mechanism.

    I, on the other hand, made it my choice to tell the truth, no-holds barred, no biting of my tongue. It takes little to no effort in being honest with yourself as well as with others over wasting your time & energy with telling one lie after another. I may not know everything but I know what its like to have the trust pattern missing within anyone & it doesn't feel very good at all. Which would you prefer? Telling the truth & not have a major monkey on your back or...Tell one lie after another & lose everyone's trust & be alone?

    Thoughts, anyone?

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    Dec 14, 2008 4:51 AM GMT

    Truth and honesty here. That said, there's the truth of discretion being the better part of valor. There's a time and place for truth and honesty and a time to just be quiet and observe....
  • UncleverName

    Posts: 741

    Dec 14, 2008 5:17 AM GMT
    I like with what both of the posters above me have said, but think that sometimes the best time to tell someone something might be never.

    The question is really why are you telling someone the truth about something? For them, or for you? If you've cheated on your partner, are you telling them because it's going to make them feel good? Or to clear your conscience? I'm not saying not to tell them, just make sure that it's for the right reasons. If it's just to clear your conscience, that's not a good enough reason. If it's so that they can have the choice about how to continue in your relationship, given the truth, then that's a good reason. Telling them the day before they are going to die also isn't the best time.

    The truth is, like everything else, all in the eye of the beholder. And just because you want to be honest doesn't actually describe how you convey 'the truth'. Not biting your tongue is great, but does that mean you should just tell someone your opinion? If someone asks you their opinion on something, but you can't tell them your opinion in a useful and constructive way, then what's the point of opening your mouth at all?

    Just my 2 cents
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    Dec 14, 2008 10:02 AM GMT
    I agree with the above posts in general. However, as I posted more than a year ago, there are some times when it may be necessary to lie. Here is an extreme example but there are cases that are not so extreme.

    You live in Holland during World War II and you have decided to harbour a Jewish family in your secret basement room. Some German soldiers come knocking on your door one day and ask you if you know of any Jews in your neighbourhood. You can not be silent, so what do you tell them?

    There is some times a gray area between telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth and telling a lie. When it comes to a particular lie, that judgment is better left to the one telling it.
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    Dec 14, 2008 1:23 PM GMT
    alexander7 saidYou live in Holland during World War II and you have decided to harbour a Jewish family in your secret basement room. Some German soldiers come knocking on your door one day and ask you if you know of any Jews in your neighbourhood. You can not be silent, so what do you tell them?


    These arguments of extreme are ridiculous, people bring up an extreme circumstance to prove a point thats useless.

    These questions that get asked are usually asked in general day to day life, things that will happen in someones life, not what could happen under a dire situation.

    But yes if it means saving someones life from harm, yes, I will lie, hell, I will kill to protect the people I love too..

    BUT, I don't lie under normal circumstances, no, I wont lie, I wont offer everything up, but when I am asked a question, regardless of if they will like to answer or not, I am honest, I might be gentle about it, I might choose my words carefully, but I wont lie to do so is disrespectful of the person and to my self.
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    Dec 14, 2008 1:39 PM GMT
    It is the whole idea of "policy" that troubles me the most. Having a policy is akin to having principles in my book. In my experience, it is people who are acting according to their principles that are usually dangerous to others.

    The example that comes most readily to mind is President Bush pointing to his own satisfaction with his Presidency because he never compromised his principles.

    Rigorous honesty is a principle.

    How much hurt is absolved by the principle "I was just being honest".

    I would rather tell a loving lie than be hatefully honest any day.

    Terry


  • coolarmydude

    Posts: 9190

    Dec 14, 2008 1:49 PM GMT
    In the army, there is a section on our evaluation reports for values. On one evaluation report, I was described as "brutally honest". I'm usually blunt about official decision making circumstances, but on the other hand, I also know how to use discretion. Discretion are those white lies that seek a harmonious balance in things as opposed to clear-cut decisions.
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    Dec 14, 2008 1:52 PM GMT
    Now, be honest. Does this picture make my head look too big?
    mybighead.jpg
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    Dec 14, 2008 1:54 PM GMT
    ursamajor said How much hurt is absolved by the principle "I was just being honest".

    I would rather tell a loving lie than be hatefully honest any day.


    Exactly.

    In that "I cannot lie, other people's feelings be damned" is just ugly narcissism. Your purity is so important, so precious, that everyone else will just have to accept being collateral damage.

    It's odd that such people think of themselves as having good character. In fact, it is a sign of weakness.
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    Dec 14, 2008 2:08 PM GMT
    I think honesty is the best policy. But this doesn't mean its the only policy. Liltanker wants real life examples not extreme ones...

    You meet someone, move in with them, commit to a lease, get a dog together, play on the local gay vollyball team together, have sunday dinners with his family, you start back to school to get your masters and he's agreed to support you (and your bills - car and credit) while this is happening. Pretty normal stuff.

    The set-up here is that you are very intertwined with this person. Commitments are made. Expectations are set. So the only problem is, the guy is getting more and more verbally abusive and controlling. He's also grown distant in the bedroom. No sign that he's cheating. Gasp, a relationship with problems.

    You try to be honest - following your policy and tell him about your concerns. However, things don't change and they get worse. Hire a screenplay writer to come up with how the web of lies begins. But to cope with an individual that doesn't want to deal with reality or give you a sense of personal well-being because they a) have a lot of influence in your life and b) are self-serving in your relationship, can require some less than honest moments.

    Honesty can return to these situations once you have extricated yourself from the people who hold unreasonable influence over you.

    So be very careful who and how you come to rely on others - if honesty is that important to you. Or if you are a terrible liar.

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    Dec 14, 2008 2:13 PM GMT
    Where on earth did you get that tiny little picture frame? I always thought you looked best photographed against the tumbling ocean waves.

    McGay saidNow, be honest. Does this picture make my head look too big?
    mybighead.jpg
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    Dec 14, 2008 2:18 PM GMT
    I will accept your non-sequitir as a sign of your total honesty, you brutal bastard!
  • coolarmydude

    Posts: 9190

    Dec 14, 2008 2:25 PM GMT
    McGay said, "Now, be honest. Does this picture make my head look too big?"
    mybighead.jpg




    Nope. Your body just looks too small. icon_wink.gif
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    Dec 14, 2008 2:27 PM GMT
    Have none of you a modicum of tact? If I go eat worms and get sick, you're all to blame.
  • coolarmydude

    Posts: 9190

    Dec 14, 2008 2:28 PM GMT
    McGay said, "Have none of you a modicum of tact? If I go eat worms and get sick, you're all to blame."


    These are safe. I promise.

    sour_worms.JPEG
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    Dec 14, 2008 2:30 PM GMT
    Oh? So, now you're telling me I have low blood sugar as well as an iddy biddy body? What next and how can I go on?
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    Dec 14, 2008 2:39 PM GMT
    OK, you have a chance to redeem yourselves, so, be honest and tell me - does this picture make my head look too small?
    mylittlehead.jpg
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    Dec 14, 2008 2:44 PM GMT
    McGay - you have bigger problems than head size in that picture to worry about: How about some paint for that wall, a lamp for the table, a belt for your pants, and until you do some crunches - how about putting on a shirt?

    (just kidding - don't get your panties in a wad now!)

    Seriously though, being honest is fine - a laudable ambition - but brutal honesty is not cool - as in my example above.
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    Dec 14, 2008 2:49 PM GMT
    But, I AM wearing a shirt! Jeezuz H but you guys are rough! Now, my choice of panties is questionable?
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    Dec 14, 2008 6:38 PM GMT

    Are they panties or manties? As for the head bigger then the body bigger - can you do that at will? ...we can only do something like that when we're rubbing our sticks together to make a fire...eagle scouts r us.
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    Dec 14, 2008 6:57 PM GMT
    The theory of telling the truth and being honest is a good theory and one to hold on too, HOWEVER I am a STRONG believer that not everyone NEEDS to know EVERYTHING ALL OF THE TIME!!!
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    Dec 14, 2008 7:09 PM GMT
    Honesty is a value - but so is choosing not to harm somebody or hurt their feelings. So deciding when to be honest is an ethical decision, I believe. You take into account the purpose for being honest. Just blurting out whatever's on your mind regardless of the possible fallout doesn't do the value of being honest any justice. Direct communication delivered diplomatically is a skill which takes into consideration the other person's feelings and gets the message across which is the main goal. Bluntness is just a lazy form of communication often excused by the belief that the other person's reaction is 'not your problem' and that their reaction must be a result of the 'truth hurts' maxim.
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    Dec 14, 2008 7:23 PM GMT
    I agree with you, Tony.

    I remember reading many years ago something to the effect that Honesty, if it's merely a "policy", doesn't amount to much. It needs to be far deeper than that.

    Today the truth is terribly devalued - email hoaxes that people perpetrate saying, "I don't know if this is true, but it won't do any harm to pass it on," are one example. They think it hurts no one to perpetrate a lie against a corporation, for instance, but that lie could cost thousands their livelihood. Rumors about politicians? PASS IT ON!! What harm can it do, except destroy a reputation and change the course of an election - and possibly history itself.


    Keeping one's mouth shut when it doesn't matter is not dishonest, but discreet. Unnecessary criticism is just that: unnecessary. "Too much information" is too much.

    But keeping one's mouth shut when it does matter is accessory to the lie

    We must learn not to be afraid of bad news, and not to "have our feelings hurt" by the truth about ourselves and people we love.
  • MSUBioNerd

    Posts: 1813

    Dec 14, 2008 7:28 PM GMT
    I'll chime in on the side that discretion can often be the better part of valor, but I will almost never tell a direct lie. I'm willing to say things that will give the wrong impression, particularly when it's something relatively unimportant (Her: "I love my new haircut! It's fantastic, don't you think? My thoughts: "It is horrendous and you look like a crazy woman. Your hairdresser should be reprimanded for such cruelty." My words: "It's so dramatic."), but my general philosophy is that if you don't want to know the answer, don't ask the question. My best friend from college summed it up on her blog this year with:


    He can be brutally honest. If you ask a question and he thinks you don't want to hear an honest answer, he warns you first. If you persist in asking, he will tell you—no holds barred. That said, there were times in college where I needed that Vulcan-like dispassion. Times when I was falling apart, and I was convinced my parents and other friends were all lying to me about a project—because, you know, they were afraid that if they told the truth, I would fall apart (can't imagine why). Sometimes, I'd let them pat me on the back and tell me it would be fine. Other times, when I actually needed to know the truth, I'd go find Mike. Sometimes he would calm me down. Other times, his comments would leave me—and yes, I know, this is unfair—so infuriated and hurt that I'd see red for a week. But he never lied about anything I asked him directly. And that kind of honesty takes a very specific form of courage. Newsflash: in case you didn't know—this is not a brand of courage that I, personally, have. I can only hope that I have provided grounding, perspective, and assistance in other arenas.


    I've gotten in trouble with friends in the past who insisted that they wanted an honest answer even when I repeatedly warned them that if they asked for honesty they would get honesty, and who were then enraged at my being honest. The most notable example would be the time one friend asked me what I thought her character flaws were.

    There are times when being totally honest can be selfish, particularly if you're volunteering opinions that weren't asked for. Biting your tongue is often a good idea. But if you're asked a question and you're upfront that if the person doesn't want an honest response then they shouldn't ask you, I don't see the selfishness involved in being honest.
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    Dec 14, 2008 8:18 PM GMT
    Bionerd, I hear you.

    I consult for people who are paying for my advice and expertise and actually only want confirmation of their own erroneous path.

    The results are unhappy for everyone if I give in to that - I have to be honest (and diplomatic). For one thing, if I approve their dumb notions, I share the blame in the end!