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Honesty is not always the best policy


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Alright, I am going to go out on a limb here and tell you that, when it comes to relationships, strict honesty is not always a good thing. I know, I know, we have all been clubbed with the mantra that honesty is the best policy since we were children. But this may not always be the case. When we share our thoughts with other people, it is important to keep a couple of things in mind:

Honesty is based on a perception, not reality

Honesty is a word for how you communicate your perception of reality. In other words, you are telling what you believe to be true in your mind, not necessarily what is true.

Research on the accuracy of eye-witness testimony in criminal cases has consistently found that what people believe they saw happen was very inaccurate. Hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent people who had been imprisoned based on eye-witness testimony have ultimately been exonerated of their crimes by advanced forensic evidence, such as DNA testing. It is not that those who gave eye-witness testimony were being dishonest in court. It's just that they confused honesty with accuracy—things that they thought were true, were actually misperceptions.

For this reason, it is important to remember that what you think and feel is real, may not be. And before expressing those perceptions "honestly" it is important to understand that what you say may not be true. So, when discussing your thoughts and feelings honestly, it is often helpful to frame it in a "this is my understanding of what's going on" or "what I see is" sort of way.

Honesty without compassion is abuse

Honesty is too often used as an excuse for being mean. There aren't enough fingers in the world to count the number of times that deliberately hurtful and demeaning statements have been made between people under the guise of "just being honest." While it may honestly be what people are thinking and feeling at the time, this kind of "honesty" will quickly undermine a relationship. It is a toxic wedge that further divides people every time it is struck.

When it comes to being honest with another person, always ask yourself "will this information be helpful or hurtful to this relationship and to the other person?" This key of "is this information helpful or hurtful" will help keep your honesty from being used as a weapon.

Honesty in relationships

It is true that relationships are based on honest and open communication. Without it, relationships won't survive. At the same time, when communicating "honestly" it is important to remember that what you think is true may not be true, and to be careful not to use honesty as a weapon as a way to hurt someone else.