Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Is honesty always the best policy?

One of my major good points and, I am beginning to realise, one of my failings, is honesty. I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve and although this may be endearing at times ... well maybe not. I am beginning to realise that honesty is not always a virtue.

I am not one of those people who gives you their full medical history when asked "How are you?" after all, even I realise that nobody is interested in the cold I've had for a week or the fact that I am starting to have hot flushes - but when asked "What's up? You don't look happy..." I am apt to give you the complete low down on exactly why I am pissed off and by whom.

Well, that's no good is it? I am learning more and more that it is better to keep your mouth shut about such 'stuff'. Just because one feels strongly about something or someone, does not give one the right to mouth off to all and sundry about that emotion.

Unfortunately, as much as I tell myself to keep my mouth shut ... I can't. The truth will out.

I think it stems from when I was a teenager and, desperate to fit in with the 'cool' set I once agreed that a certain band's album was amazing. Of course there was no such album and actually no such band. I was discovered and humiliated. I vowed then never to lie again. If I don't know something I admit it. If I feel a certain way about something I let people know.

To a certain extent such behaviour is pretty commendable, even though I do say so myself ... but all the time? I am proud to stand up for what I believe is right, but do I need to reveal to all and sundry that I can't stand somebody? Probably not. There are times when you need to choose your battles and by fighting every battle that comes along, by decrying every injustice, every incompetence - doesn't that weaken one's sense of integrity?

I don't want to be seen as a moaner. I don't join in if people are bad mouthing someone else. I would rather stick up for them if I think they are being maligned. But there are times when one is faced with behaviour that really grates, a situation that riles and there is not much one can do to make it better. So when asked " Are you ok? You look a bit down..." its easy to just vent. No matter how honest one is being, surely that's wrong?

I am trying so hard at the moment to just choose my battles, learn to keep schtum unless I really have a need to open up. There is honesty and honesty. Sometimes tact and diplomacy are greater qualities. Or perhaps I should just be honest? When does honesty become rudeness? After all, my honest opinion is only that - an opinion. What if I am wrong? Perhaps when it comes to people I should stay quiet? I don't know ...

I would love to know what you think ... 


Razmataz said...

I think being tactful is a good principle to learn. I tend to be the same as you in opening up if someone asks specifically, but over the years have learned to only confide in my confidantes. A lot of people with seemingly good intentions really are not intending well at all.

I save my true feelings for my husband, grown children and a close friend. Even with family I find the word gets spread.

I was very open about some issues I was having to someone I thought was good friend. She repeated it to someone else (This person knew things they shouldn;t) and threw it all back in face in a horrible way that ended an 8 year close friendship. One thing though, is I never get burned twice. I am no insincere, just cautious and controlled if possible. You need to sound off to the right people...they are few and far between.

Urban Cynic said...

I say use your integrity and decide case on case. But always keep in mind that, at the end of it all, it doesn't really matter because we'll all be dead one day!

I doubt very much that anyone will be lying on their death bed mulling over something you once said to them, so as long as it's not a massive clunker you come out with, I doubt that it will make a big difference in the scheme of things. x

sarah at secret housewife said...

You made me think Razmatazz and you made me laugh Urban Cynic!!! All good, I can assure you both!

Pauline said...

I agree with every word. Even at my age I struggle with my natural inclination to be honest. A good friend once suggested that I keep my honesty but be a little less direct, to use my judgement to decide when the words should be softened, or to decide if another form of attack might not work better. I think I have more or less worked it out now but I think I have become a little less passionate with age so the struggle isn't as hard as it was. But, please, don't ever lose your honestly no matter how you decide to handle it.

Urban Cynic said...

Thought I'd pop back to see what the consensus was. I'm like Pauline in that I'm way too blunt and direct. I'm famous amongst my friends actually. They say they always come to me if they want an honest (yet often painful) opinion!

I think I'm being tactful as well but apparently I'm the least tactful person in the Northern Hemisphere! I think people can tell that my honesty comes from a good place though and is not meant maliciously. My theory is that my honesty comes from not giving a hoot what people think of me.

Louise said...

Let's just say I'm too honest for my own good! x