I’ve carefully considered the concept of honesty. I wondered how we might better induce it within our circles of influence… and be more forthcoming with it ourselves?
I’m addressing those who understand that honesty equals truth telling and hold it in high regard. Psychopathic liars with no penchant for, or moral leaning toward honesty, are exempted from this discussion. It’s the rest of us I’m concerned about.
If threats of consequences are severe enough, we can and do extract honesty by force, Yet I deem this method to be the exception and not the rule.
Even those of us who believe in and value honesty, are prone to lie eventually, either by commission or omission. Why is that?
Does the responsibility for honesty rest solely on the shoulders of the person doing the conveying? I no longer think so. I maintain that the listener’s behavior profoundly influences the degree of truth telling they receive, regardless of who’s in the hot seat.
If you asked me whether I am an honest person, my answer would be a quick unequivocal “yes”. You can trust me: with your money, your belongings, your confidences, your pets, children, husbands, grandparents and businesses!
I do tell the absolute truth … maybe 98% of the time. But I have lied on occasions in the past. I realize I might and would again, under culpable circumstances in the future.
Can we all agree, that it’s exceedingly more difficult to tell the truth, when we’re afraid enough, or ashamed enough, and want or need to protect ourselves on a primal level?
In hindsight, I realize that while I only lie when I’m afraid or ashamed, I don’t lie every time I am afraid or ashamed. In my lifetime, I’ve willingly and repeatedly divulged painfully unflattering truths about myself to select individuals.
I’ve surmised that people who get the truth from me, all the time and every time, are those who provide a “platform” that supports my truth telling. Dr. Phil’s term for such a foundation is “giving someone a soft place to fall”.
Offering a man, a “platform for honesty”, doesn’t imply you won’t get mad about what he tells you, or that dire consequences won’t be imposed.
It does mean you won’t go ballistic: physically or verbally, hitting or shouting. It means you won’t berate or demean the man or woman, (child, friend, family member, co-worker), who dared expose their vulnerability by bearing truths, which by default, are already defined by fear and shame.
If you want people to tell you the truth – be the sort of person that truth flows toward.
© 2012, Savannah Walters / All Rights Reserved
A Note to My Faithful Readers
If you’re reading this blog post, does the dual concept of responsibility for honesty, between speaker and listener, ring true for you?
Can you recall the driving forces behind why you have lied in the past?
Do you remember occasions when you chose to admit painful truths and what about your immediate environment made you willing to do so?
Sharing your relevant personal stories is both encouraged and welcomed.