When people ask us what the most important trait is that we look for in a friend or a significant other, we often say honesty. We say that we want people to be honest with us because we want to feel like we can trust them. We put so much emphasis on honesty, ironically, but rarely seem to be completely honest ourselves. Sometimes I think we don’t actually want honesty – we’re fine with all the sugar coating and white lies because then we don’t have to be completely honest with ourselves, either.
This is wrong. We should always want complete honesty, at all times, even if it’s hard. I promise you, honesty makes things easier in the long run.
How many times has a miscommunication occurred between you and someone else because you didn’t say exactly how you were feeling? We wrap what we mean to say up in pretty packaging to try and spare peoples feelings or to keep them from knowing what’s really going on inside us. They think they know what we mean or how we feel, but they don’t and it’s not their fault. It’s ours.
Confrontation is awkward. Frankly, I’m the worst at it. I don’t like calling people out on things – I’d always prefer to just wait and see if the problem will fix itself. I’m finding more and more that this doesn’t work, and instead just becomes increasingly frustrating. We need to start being straight with people, or they’re never going to know how we really feel. I’m bad at confrontation, perhaps because we’ve always been taught that we need to protect people’s feelings. Be delicate. Be modest. You can’t talk about that in public. Someone might hear you. Someone might know how you feel.
Wouldn’t you rather know exactly how someone is feeling even if it might hurt your feelings? If you can feel that something is off between you and another person but they just keep telling you that everything is fine, nothing is going to change because you don’t know what’s wrong. Are you being paranoid? Maybe, but chances are that person has an issue but doesn’t want to bring it up. Always bring it up. Nothing will change if we don’t try to change it ourselves.
I think we should start being totally honest, with everyone. Someone is being rude to you and you’re sick of dealing with it? Instead of putting up with it because they’re in your friend group or you don’t want to make waves, try telling them, “You seem to get mad at me easier than our other friends. Did I do something to make you feel this way? Let’s talk about it.” You like someone your friend was already involved with and aren’t sure how they’ll react? Instead of sneaking around them to try and spare their feelings, talk to them about it and say, “I like this person a lot, but I want you to be okay with it. Let’s figure this out.” Sure it’s uncomfortable, and sure it’s easier to choose the less straightforward option. Where does that get us though? Not anywhere we’d like to be.
We don’t always want to hear the truth. Sometimes, we don’t react well to it. We get upset. We get defensive. And then we still get mad when people aren’t honest with us. Instead, we need to learn to embrace the truth in the same way that we claim to embrace honesty. Once we’ve had time to think about it, we usually end up being grateful for the truth. The truth always helps more in the long run than embellishments or white lies do. Part of learning to be straight with people is learning to accept being people being straight with us as well. It has to go both ways.
Imagine a world where everyone was always honest with each other. We’d waste our time less because we’d know how people felt right from the beginning. We’d be less confused. Maybe, we’d even be happier. If we start, slowly, telling people exactly what we mean up front rather than stalling and trying to figure out a different way to say it, maybe we can start a trend. Be straight with people. Help honest catch on.