Honestly, is it Really the Best Policy?

To make things clear right from the start, I am not advocating lying. I am not encouraging falsehood in a world that needs more honest and open dialogue on every level. I am not, in any way, telling you that you should misinform or mess with the ones you love, or even those you don’t. All I am saying is that there is a time and a place for everything and honesty is not above that rule.

The world has grown, emotionally at least. People are much more open about their feelings, their thoughts, their very lives. And that’s a good thing. In America we have a long history of honesty, George Washington and the Cherry Tree and “Honest” Abe Lincoln come to mind right away. We are raised in the U.S. to believe that honesty is the best policy but what happens when it just isn’t?

Once again, I’m not saying that lying should ever be an option. What I am saying is that there are times you can just keep shtum. For some reason the members of American culture have decided that being honest is equal to saying what you think voraciously, sometimes without even being asked! We have this idea of “full disclosure” of “not holding back” and for some insane reason we equate that with honesty.

For example, when a co-worker asks your opinion on a project he is launching, something that is happening now- something that will not be changed in the slightest by what you say- there is no reason for you to bash it. I don’t care if you have thought the project was a mistake from the beginning. It doesn’t matter if your points are well made and relevant. You are not impressing anyone with your forthrightness, you are not showing how “honest” you are, you are just venting. Yet people do this everyday. They mistake attacks for criticism and verbal diarrhea for truth.

Now don’t get me wrong; I love the full disclosure aspect of America. I love Celebrity twitter, Blogs and overheard in NY. What I don’t love is people who feel they have to “tell it like it is.” I don’t like this self-centered attention-grab disguised as “advice” or “help”.

So next time someone asks you a question that you suspect they might not really want your opinion on, don’t just mentally shrug and think “they asked for the truth” before spewing forth all your bile. Wait, think and consider if they really want to hear what you have to say. If they don’t, find some polite way to avoid answering.

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