Photography Challenge Day 22:
I believe in honesty and in the fact that being honest will take you much further in life than being dishonest does. But I can’t ignore the fact that honesty can also be the brutal kind and it can get you into all sorts of awkward situations. I should know…
Many people live in denial because being honest with themselves or with the people close to them can be painful. We keep that cancer diagnosis to ourselves and dodge the questions about our pale complexion with white lies.
And we stop watching the news because it’s easier to go about our own troublesome lives when we do not know how terrible a place the world around us has become. But is ignorance in fact bliss? It may be for a while but in the long run I can see it being more hurtful.
I count myself among the brutally honest people and I want the people around me to accept that and be just as honest when I ask them if that dress makes me look fat. I’d rather get the honest answer than go rocking out to a party looking like a clown because my friends didn’t have the balls to be honest with me.
But having lived around Europe I’ve come to learn, through trial and error, that brutal honesty isn’t always acceptable. It’s important to evaluate the situation before starting to spew honest facts about matters, and to consider whether a more discreet approach might be beneficial for everybody’s sake.
So, honesty can be a double-ended sword. I gathered here some pros and cons that I have learned along the way in regards to being honest:
Pro: Honest people lie less
And that can’t be a bad thing, right? What good ever came from lying anyway. Honest people don’t see any point in lying because telling the truth is much more efficient, even if it may mean some troublesome conversations to be had afterwards. Better to discuss than to fear being found out.
Con: You’re bad at lying
Preferring truth over lies often means that these honest people then cannot lie at all. This can be a bad thing, for example, when someone trusts an honest person with a secret or a surprise plan for someone. It can be hard to stay quiet or to come up with alternative stories in order to keep the secret if your default setting is to be honest.
Pro: People can count on your honest opinion
There are some who prefer a softer approach when asking for an opinion, for example, on an outfit. As I said before, I’d much rather get an honest “That doesn’t suit you”-answer than go out looking like a twat because my friends told me I’m fine.
I see being honest with my friends and family as a favour, because I don’t want them to make a fool of themselves, or to confuse them by avoiding truth in any situation. And I think they see it the same way because many of my friends have said they come to me when they want an actual, realistic and honest opinion on something. I like that :)
Con: Your honesty can be mistaken for rudeness
Not in all cultures can one be as bluntly honest as I am. I learned this through trial and error; sending a ‘straight-to-the-point’ e-mail to a Finnish person works but I would recommend a more polite manner with most other European equivalents.
In Northern countries we aren’t interested in how everyone’s doing if there’s work to be done, whereas in Germany an e-mail should always start with inquiries after the recipient’s and perhaps even their family’s well-being.
Story from real life: I will never forget how my friend was gliding around the living room in her new outfit for a night out attempting to get praising comments from two of the guys sitting on the couch. The guys didn’t react so she inquired for an opinion on her outfit.
When the response was an honest “It’s a bit ‘Snooky‘” a fit of rage followed. But, in my opinion, if you ask for an opinion you should be able to hear and accept the answer.
But it’s always good to remember that one should be careful with their opinions and how to bring them out in a way that makes a point clear without insulting anyone. That should be considered in all cultures regardless, but without compromising honesty. It can be a slippery slope.
Pro: Your life is simpler
Honestly (pun intended). When you tell the truth, when you answer truthfully, and when you’re honest with the most important people in your life, your life is infinitely simpler. You don’t need to explain your actions all the time when you’re open about them to begin with, and you don’t need to get flustered or be worried of being found out if you have nothing to hide.
Con: You may find it hard to know when somebody’s dishonest
It’s good to trust that the people around you are honest as well, but one should never trust anyone blindly. Nobody’s 100% honest, we all have skeletons in our closets and past endeavours that we’d like to wipe off the pages of history.
But the normal terms and cond… I mean rules apply, and you can recognize most people when they are lying from their uncomfortable fidgeting, avoiding eye contact and from their story changing shape by the minute.
As long as we keep our wits about ourselves, we should be able to recognize if a person is lying to us or treating us dishonestly.
I’d love to you your thoughts on this; is it good to be (even brutally) honest or are white lies sometimes your preferred way of navigating different kinds of situations?