Tell the Truth, as You Know It– Honesty really is the best policy — learn why honesty is best
Alter Your Language so Others Have the Best Chance to Hear Your Truth.
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To begin: we benefit from being aware of how we say what we say. In other words, our motivation — the reason we select our words — often determines the effectiveness of what we say.
This concept links perfectly with the second line of today’s topic, above. We’ll get there, after we have a look at telling the truth.
One of the lead stories in the Toronto Star recently updated their list of Trump’s false claims. Seems he hit 500 at day 200 of his presidency. Of course presidents lie. Trump just makes into an art-form.
Why? Well, most people lie to prop up a false ego-view of themselves. Another reason we lie is to win over others–to say what we think others want to hear. And third, some people lie because they think they have the right to.
Trump fits all three reasons, and moves the game into pathology.
But enough about the best example of lying ever in the history of the world… 😉
Lying starts in childhood, when kids discover that there are (painful) parental-enforced-consequences to their behaviour. Kids learn quickly to deny, deny, deny… then finger-point… to blame others.
We’ve all gone through a phase of thinking, “What they don’t know won’t hurt them.”
Thus, lying to others begins with this first, biggest lie:
In order to lie to another, I first have to lie to myself.
- For children, the “self-lie” is: “If I lie, I’ll get away with this.”
- For adults, the “self-lie” is: “He’ll only hurt himself if I tell the truth, so I’m lying to make it easier on him. Besides, I’m an adult, and some stuff should just be kept private!”
The cosmic joke in all of this is two-fold:
- we mostly get caught in our lies, and
- even if we don’t, lying always damages the relationship.
I’ve had the pleasure of watching excellent videos from The Haven; there’s one of Ben & Jock doing a “Relationships” weekend. Toward the end, that they start a discussion of what they call “lines in the sand.”
A line in the sand can be expressed: “If you do (insert behaviour) I’ll leave you.”
Now, most people have not actually talked with their partner and admitted to their line(s) in the sand. When they do, they discover that they have a ton of them, that they are typically petty, and that they discover that they are being invented as the couple goes along. Examples:
“If you look at another (wo)man, I’ll leave you.”
“If you yell at me one more time, I’ll leave you.”
“If you don’t live your life the way I want you, to…”
I could keep going, but I’m sure you can do the job for me.
First of all, such multiple, ever-changing lines in the sand are stupid and immature.
They are the adult equivalent of the six-year-old having a fit, stomping his feet and screaming, “I hate you! I’m running away from home!” And secondly, if you are just threatening and don’t leave when something you’d said you’d leave over happens, you are lying. This makes the line in the sand an empty threat.
Anyway, back to Ben & Jock’s video. The couples attending toss out examples of their lines in the sand. The Boys keep saying, “That wouldn’t be on our list.”
Finally, Ben says something like, “Our only line in the sand is total honesty.”
Darbella and I looked at each other and said, “Wow! That’s our line in the sand! We tell the truth!”
From my side of that idea, I would tolerate one direct lie from Dar, and would leave upon hearing the second. I suspect that is also where she is at, from what she has told me.
In 34 years of hanging out with each other, neither of us has used up the first lie.
I want to make clear that there is no game playing in this “no lying” stance. There seems to be an “out” in the first sentence of today’s “rule,” Always Tell the Truth, as You Know It. One could argue that “I wasn’t really lying. I just decided to tell part of it, and now I’m telling more.” This is not what I’m getting at.
Whole life begins when we stop lying to ourselves. An “honesty policy” is not about the other person–I’m not choosing to be honest for Darbella’s sake. I’m being honest for my sake.
Honesty is the best policy
Psst!!! Want to learn all about how to be honest and communicate well? Read my book, The. Best. Relationship. Ever.!!!
The decision to be honest comes from a place of integrity.
1. Steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code. 2. The state of being unimpaired; soundness. 3. The quality or condition of being whole or undivided; completeness.
© 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by the Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved. © 1996–2002 yourDictionary.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
I know lots of business people who would never cheat a client or cheat on a business deal, but rigorously cheat in their personal lives. What I’m saying here, BTW, is not a condemnation of extra-marital affairs. I have no judgement at all about them. What I am saying is this:
Do you begin to see how integrity and being honest with yourself fits into this equation?
The reason we either lie, or don’t tell our partner something (a lie by omission) is because we fear the consequences of the behaviour we are lying about. We are either doing something we have moral reservations about, or we think or know that our partner will have moral reservations about.
The integrity piece is this: why would I choose to engage in an activity I haven’t decided is, for me, at least morally neutral? And if I believe it to be at least morally neutral, why am I afraid to talk about it? The only real explanation is this: I’m feeling guilty.
Saying “I don’t owe anyone an explanation for my behaviour” is a cop out. Integrity means “the willingness to stand up for what I believe.”
Honesty, total honesty, is about revealing to my partner who I am today and every day. In my own case, I want to let Dar know what’s going on in the minefield I call my head. I choose to share my thoughts, emotions, desires–and especially what I choose to do.
And my expectation is that she will do the same.
Here is where the “as you know it” part comes in. Sometimes, I change my mind. I may decide to do ‘x’ one day, and then go do it, and decide that the next time I’ll do ‘y.’ As long as I’m keeping Darbella totally in the loop, and letting her know my ongoing thinking on the topic, I am being inconsistent (I suppose) but certainly not lying.
And if you think about it, the actual “truth” of such a situation would be, “I’m thinking several things about this, am not sure, and am trying out different behaviours, while keeping you informed.”
So, what’s included in an “honesty” pact? Everything.
Any time you might think to exclude something, don’t. Tell each other everything.
Now, quickly, to the second sentence. The methodology for achieving total honesty is elegant communication.
So, how we say what we say is also relevant, and totally under our control.
I don’t remember what the disagreement was about, but one evening Dar and I were on about something, and I remember, clearly, annoying the hell out of myself. I remember thinking, “You know, I really am feeling cold and distant from Dar (Haven-speak.)” I knew that I could say that, in those words, and Dar would accept it as an honest statement of fact.
Instead, my internal, perverse voice said, “She’s got the audacity to argue with you! Make her hurt!”
Having known Dar for 20 years, I knew what to say. I looked her in the eyes, put a bit of surliness in my voice, and said, “You know, I feel absolutely nothing for you right now.”
My words had their intended effect. At least for a minute. Dar proceeded to hurt herself over my words. But then, a second or two later, she said, “Nice try. I’m not going to continue to hurt myself over that.”
Being totally honest, I then said, “I made a decision to say that in a way you might hurt yourself over. I was looking to hurt, not communicate.”
With this kind of dialogue and honesty, our disagreements have been short-lived.
The second sentence calls us to think about the intention of our words. If my intent is to blame or hurt, I want to be honest and say that. If my intent is to communicate, I’ll speak in a way that will facilitate the listener actually hearing what I’m saying. Anything else is a game.
Honest communication and transparent honesty is the name of the game if I choose to live my life with integrity.
Lying, cheating and manipulating are the games
of an infantile loser.
You pick. You choose.