As children, we were told to always tell the truth. This was often supported with the fear that if we didn’t, the truth would eventually be revealed.
The operative lesson being, “Don’t lie!”
As completely stand-alone ideas, telling the truth is a right act, but lying is a wrong act. Philosophically, once past these first statements, it’s more difficult than that.
Truth, humanely perceived, isn’t an absolute.
Being untruthful implies that you are telling a lie or creating a falsehood. Sometimes a “little white lie” does not seem untruthful; rather, it is about not wanting to say something that will hurt or offend someone.
It feels easier to justify not telling the whole truth, or a small untruth, as civility. But even the tiniest "little white lie” can come back to bite you.
One thing for sure: A reputation as an honest person is desirable and being known as someone who doesn’t tell the truth is not. People ask, “Can he be trusted to tell the truth?” “Can her word be depended upon?”
Keep in mind, we choose our friends and do business with those who we believe are trustworthy.
It’s good to be honest. But being honest does not equate with being rude or mean.
Sincere honesty and the “no facts left behind” approach do not reconcile.
In conversations and in the public’s eye, when truthfulness is called for, constructive honesty serves us well.
However, constructive honesty does not mean:
Honesty is always deserved. But when it will be perceived as a cruel fact, tone it down, present it as a positive, or use it to suggest an improvement.
Daily, in social and professional living, we face situations where we have to decide how honest we will be. The boundaries of personal privacy may dictate how much information you reveal, but honesty should prevail.
If you choose to tell a lie – even a little one – know that consequences may await you. You’ll need to remember what you told and who you told it to. Lies have a way of coming back to us at the most unexpected times.
We want to be believable and we want others to perceive us this way. When we passionately feel something we want to be able to share it, but remembering that others also have the same inclinations, we should put our desire for civility first.