Wednesday, May 23 , 2018, 3:02 am | Fair 56º


John Daly: Lying, and the Importance of Being Earnest

No, today’s topic isn’t about the farcical comedy in which the protagonists maintain fictitious personae to escape their social obligations. But somehow, that fits with being honest.

Let’s start with a hard look at honesty. Simply put it means to truthfully provide information when asked, including what you did or did not do, or what someone else did or did not do. It means not leaving out important facts to shield the complete truth. And, it means admitting mistakes if you’ve made them. In keeping with the title of this piece, it also means not pretending to be someone or something that you are not.

Why Does Honesty Matter?

The first big reason is that it creates trust. It means that when you do make a mistake, people are more likely to forgive you and give you a second chance. Everyone makes mistakes. Lies on top of them only lead to more problems and will paint a person as dishonest. It’s very much like the boy who cried wolf too many times as a joke. When the wolf appeared, no one would believe him.

Being honest also builds confidence. When you are truthful, you can be assured that you can be confident in what you are saying. Personal development is about fostering positive qualities within yourself. Honesty enables you to rid feelings of negativity that hold you back personally and professionally.

It allows you to live a life of integrity, showing your true self to others. It shows others that you are reliable, genuine.

The Facts about Dishonesty

Being completely honest can be very difficult. Lying often appears to be the easiest “out” for a situation. But, once you have been untruthful, and you are discovered (trust me, lies are always uncovered), the consequences will make your situation 10 times worse.

Dishonesty is about concealment and living your life in the shade. It holds back growth. It adds an element of mystery that others sense as dishonesty. Even the best liars on earth will attract only similarly dishonest people and be on the receiving end of the dishonesty of others.

Let’s take a look at a hypothetical. You are in a position of opportunity in your career or another situation attached to money or power. You’re a basically good and honest person who on occasion has turned a “blind eye” or “held back with the truth” in order to gain something. However, if you really respect yourself, you’ll discover that later you feel badly because you got ahead through dishonest means. So, your conscience starts to “beat you up” over your own dishonesty. In the long run, these weren’t gains at all.

White Lies

We’ve all told white lies because brutal honesty might inflict pain or distress on another. For instance, Mary told Tim she couldn’t go out with him on Saturday night because she and her family were going out of town. You are Mary’s best friend and know it is because she doesn’t find Tim attractive and doesn’t want to date him.

When Tim asks you if the reason is genuine, what do you say? Do you want to be brutally honest and tell Tim the truth or tell him you don’t know if it is genuine or not to spare Tim’s feelings? Perhaps in this instance it is better to be economical with the truth and just say you think Mary has other plans. This isn’t the complete truth, but you are sparing Tim’s feelings on something that won’t have a real impact on his future.

However, this is one of those instances where you need to clearly think it through. Some would advise you to very gently let Tim know that Mary isn’t really interested in him rather than saying something that will make matters worse. While you never want to hurt someone, there may be a diplomatic solution in which you tell Tim the truth and let Mary know about the conversation. She will probably be grateful that you ended her white lie, and both parties can move on with their lives.

Finally, the truth really does set you free. Being someone that others can count upon to be both open and earnest will be returned to you in the respect and honesty you will receive from others.

John Daly is the founder and president of The Key Class, the go-to guide for job search success. Click here to learn more about The Key Class or to get his book. If you have questions about business or social etiquette, just ask John at [email protected]. Connect with The Key Class on Facebook. Follow John Daly on Twitter: @johndalyjrClick here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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