Friday, July 2, 2010

Real Honesty - Part 2

Yesterday, I talked about how sometimes the fear of being rejected or the fear of controversy can lead me to be dishonest through omission. Meaning, I won’t necessarily verbalize a lie and say, “Yes, I totally agree with you!” (when I don’t) but I WILL sort of half-heartedly nod and just listen, giving the appearance that I am in agreement.

I am currently figuring out when I need to be honest and not allow my fears to hold me back from speaking truth or from verbalizing my opinions. However, in this learning process, I am also discovering when it is appropriate to use discretion over blunt honesty.

When I say that we should be honest despite our fears of rejection, I DON”T mean that we should go blaring our opinions around, especially uninvited, to every person in our path. There is a place for discretion.

So how do we know when we should say something and when we shouldn’t?

There could be more to this answer [and I would love to hear your thoughts] but I believe it has to do with the internal motivation of your heart.

There are two questions that have I begun to ask myself. These are:

Why do I want (or don’t want) to say this?” and “What is the benefit of me saying this.”

If I am finding that the only reason I don’t want to say something is fear of rejection or fear of controversy, I might want to consider stretching myself and applying the honesty approach.
But, if there is going to be no actual benefit to me speaking up about something, or if it causes unneccesary harm, or if I find that my reasons for wanting to share something are purely selfish, then maybe it is a good time to apply the rule of discretion.

I think I am beginning to discover the line between a time for honesty and a time for discretion.

What do you think? What have you learned in this area?


  1. As you explore the firewall between honesty and discretion you ask at the end of your blog "What do you think"? and I am reminded of an acronym that has been helpful to me as a general rule of thumb: T.H.I.N.K.

    T = Is it True?
    H = Is it Helpful?
    I = Is it Important?
    N = Is it Necessary?
    K = Is it Kind?

    Of course, this is only a generalization and wisdom is absolutely required for situationally specific application.

    I have personally run the gammut between full, unfiltered (brutal) honesty and calm, detached discretion. Both have been helpful and hurtful. I agree with your observation that "motivation" is the key differentiator. Am I being self-serving and self-protecting or am I seeking the best of the other individual(s) in the specific circumstance.What is my motive which will ultimately reflect my true heart.

    Is it helpful to withold honesty from an employee who is about to lose their job because of poor performance yet they aren't aware because I haven't shared that with them? I don't think so. It would seem more loving to be brutally honest with them so they could have a real opportunity to address their precarious situation. Likewise, is it kind to be blunt and lacking discretion as I blast friends or family on matters of personal preference? I think that is unloving and self-serving even though it is honest and does reflect my beliefs.

    As your blog indicates, perhaps honesty and discretion are better seen as co-equals rather than co-competitors in a winner-take-all approach.

    Thanks for caring about these concepts. It's so refreshing to watch you in pursuit of truth!

  2. I really like how you said (in reference to being bluntly honest when it is unnecessary), "I think that is unloving and self-serving even though it is honest and does reflect my beliefs."

    It's important to have beliefs! and it's also important to know when (or when not) to share them.

    Thanks for all the feedback, Dad. and thanks for the acrostic - that is really helpful. I will definitely be thinking about it. :-)