When my youngest daughter, Kathryn, was four-years-old I asked her why she wrote her name on our front door with a pencil. She responded by saying, “Because I couldn’t find my marker.” Although her behavior was unacceptable, I found her honesty to be quite refreshing. It was one of many times I had to bite my lip so I could maintain a serious expression while disciplining one of our kids.
Unfortunately, there are many people today who don’t value the virtue of honesty. Every day we witness the dishonesty of public officials, high profile athletes and many others who are role models to our children. Many people don’t think twice about telling a lie if it will keep them out of trouble or from having to experience a painful consequence. Too often, people are unwilling to stand up and take responsibility for their actions.
People often justify dishonesty by rationalization, or inventing a reason why doing something wrong is actually right or at least acceptable. One of the problems we are experiencing in the world of news media and social media is that “news” and “facts” are being shared at lightning speed without being verified as true. Anyone who wants to spread a lie only has to put it out on social media and ask people to share. If the lie appeals to anyone’s biases or preferences, it’s sure to go viral.
If you value honesty at all, fact-check before you believe, verify before you repeat, and check your motives before you speak.
It was my policy as a parent to show my children more grace when they were honest and confessed to doing something wrong than if they compounded their offense by lying about it. I believe my soon-to-be new son-in-law will appreciate Kathryn’s honesty for years to come. (Most of the time, anyway!)
If you want strong relationships at home and at work, be honest. Honesty breeds respect and trust even when the truth is hurtful or damaging. The real intimacy that people long for can only occur in the context of honesty and transparency. People who lie often find themselves cut off from family and friends who no longer believe what they say. Anything less than transparency will give way to suspicion and doubt, which ultimately leads to isolation and loneliness.
When others trust you, they will more easily forgive your mistakes and give grace when you have blown it. In all things, whether public or private, commit to demonstrating honesty and your relationships will grow stronger than ever.
Were you taught the value of honesty when you were growing up? How are you teaching your children to tell the truth? Do you have a story of how being truthful – or untruthful – impacted your life? Feel free to share in the Comments below!
Live, Work & Relate Well!
Dr. Linaman is a psychologist and executive coach providing counseling and professional development services to individuals, couples, work teams and organizations.