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4 Reasons Why You Should Always Be Honest

4 Reasons Why You Should Always Be Honest

It has been said that honesty is the best policy, but why is that? Since we’re constantly bombarded by lies and misdirection from people we’re supposed to look up to, why is it important for us to avoid lying in turn? Let’s take a look at a few reasons why being honest is preferable to lying, any day of the week.

It’s Easier Than Lying.

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” — Sir Walter Scott

Have you ever told a lie and then forgotten the details about it? Sure, you may have been able to ad lib and thus save your butt for the time being, but lies tend to spiral outwards and have to be maintained with an even larger web of lies. These are incredibly tiring to maintain, and unless you want to carry a notebook with you in which you’ve written down the different fibs associated with the original lie, you’ll have a hard time keeping track of it all.

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If you stick with the truth, it doesn’t matter how often you’re asked about the subject—you’ll always respond the same way, because you’re being honest about what really happened.

You Will Be Found Out.

Regardless of how airtight you think your lie is, someone will find out about it eventually.

If your kid’s hamster dies and you say that it ran away, and ten years later they accidentally dig up the rodent’s skeleton in the backyard, they’ll realize that you lied to their face and they’ll be really upset. If you call in sick to work so you can go to a convention or somesuch, your boss will inevitably see pictures of you floating around in full Klingon regalia, and then you’ll have to face the consequences of your actions.

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Trust in the fact that the truth always finds a way to rise to the surface, so just own up.

The Worst Truth is Better Than the Best Lie.

No matter how badly you think someone will react when you tell them something, you can rest assured that they will be a thousand times more upset if (or rather, when) they find out that you’d lied to them. Not only that, but sometimes the lie can cause much more dismay than honesty, like telling kids that their grandmother “went to sleep” instead of letting them know that she had died. If they’re young, they’ll end up terrified of going to bed for fear that they’ll never wake up again, and if they’re older, they’ll be furious with you for being patronising towards them.

Some couples stay together for years after they no longer have feelings for one another because neither party had the guts to be honest about the situation, when they could have spent decades being happier either alone or with someone new instead. One man I know discovered, upon his father’s death at age 90, that the poor man had spent his entire life in a loveless marriage because he never had the courage to tell his wife that he was gay. Had he been honest to both himself and to his wife, she could have been with someone who actually loved and cared for her, and he could have lived his life in a way that made him happy as well.

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Once Trust is Broken, It Can Never Be Fully Regained.

Although the words “I’m sorry” can ameliorate certain ugly situations, they can’t heal rifts or set things back to how they were before everything went to hell. If someone finds out that you’ve lied to them, they will never be able to fully trust you again. Ever. Even if you spend the rest of your life being a complete paragon of honesty and integrity, the person you lied to will always wonder if you’re being dishonest on some level. You can be sincere to your very marrow, but they won’t ever have true faith in you again.

Can you live with that?

There’s no such thing as a little white lie, and the fib that you tell another will inevitably come back around to bite you in the ass.

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“This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” Hamlet Act 1, scene 3 — William Shakespeare

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Catherine Winter

Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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