What Does It Mean to Be Honest?

Two friends sitting on sofa having honest talk with each other
Photo by Christina Morillo from Pexels

According to one dictionary, being honest means that one is free from fraud or deception. An honest person is genuine, truthful, and sincere. On the surface, honesty seems like an easy concept to understand, and in some respects, it is. In other ways, though, it might be difficult to discern what it really means to be honest. Let’s discuss what this quality means and how we can display it in our day to day lives.

Lying by Omission

Lying by omission means simply that everything coming out of a person’s mouth may be completely true. But they might intentionally be leaving out relevant information. Some people justify this type of dishonesty with a “don’t ask, don’t tell” kind of mentality. However, lying by omission is still lying.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that honesty requires you to tell every little detail to everyone. In many situations, other people do not need to have certain information, or they may not have a right to it. In such cases, leaving out certain facts is perfectly okay because there is no harmful motive behind the omission.

When It Is Easy to Deceive

It’s easy to stumble across situations where it would be easy to deceive someone else. For example, it’s a common practice for people to step outside the lines of truth when they file their taxes. Most of the time, the government doesn’t catch those little discrepancies because unless the deception causes a huge monetary loss for them, they probably don’t care.

Still, being as honest as possible is a good practice. Not only will it help you to have a clean conscience, but it will also reassure your friends and family members that doing the right thing is important to you.

What About “Little White Lies”?

“Does this dress make me look fat?” Many husbands have felt like deer caught in the headlights when their wife asks that question. Maybe he thinks that the dress is not flattering for her figure, but he goes ahead and says, “Honey, you look great!” That’s what we call a little white lie.

Are little white lies okay? Well… by definition, they are still lies. One expert even says about white lies, “there are instances where they can weaken relationships or provide a false sense of hope or confidence.”

In most cases, there are ways to be truthful without hurting anyone’s feelings. Going back to the dress example, most women would appreciate an honest but tactful response. For example, going back to the example in the last paragraph, the husband could say something like, “That color looks great on you, but the dress doesn’t compliment your figure.”

Can Honesty Go Too Far?

Some people have adopted a practice of “brutal honesty.” That is to say, they say whatever is on their minds and justify being rude by claiming that they are just being honest. Honesty is a good thing. Using words as a weapon, however, is not. Everyone does well to remember what their kindergarten teachers used to say, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

But if you do need to say something that could potentially cause some hurt feelings, it’s important to be careful with word choice and tone. As mentioned previously, in many cases, it’s possible to get your message across without hurting anyone. Sticks and stones can break bones, but words can cause wounds that never really heal.

What are your thoughts on what it means to be honest? Please leave a comment!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *