This may seem elementary, but it isn’t. The truth gets cloudy sometimes, and that’s what gets us in trouble. Most of us don’t intentionally lie or exaggerate the truth to hurt anyone. In fact, many of us get caught up in an occasional white lie or embellishment to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. You know what we mean. “I’m so sorry, I can’t attend your son’s play because I have another appointment at that time,” (even though you don’t). In today’s modern world, we’ve become too accustomed to seeing media, paparazzi, and advertising exaggerate the truth. Embellishment has almost become the norm, and we’ve become desensitized to it.
What’s so wrong with a white lie to preserve a friend’s feelings? Well, first off, what would happen if they found out that you fibbed? How would they feel then? And what would your friend feel about you? Besides that consequence, the fact is, when you tell a lie, your intentions are to deceive, and deception is never the right thing. It’s just not good for the soul.
Sometimes we avoid the truth so as not to create tension or “make waves” among the people we love. “I don’t mind missing my anniversary dinner to watch your kids tonight. I’ll just reschedule.” (Really?!?) If you don’t want to do something, don’t do it. If something bothers you about someone else, address it with them. Don’t shrug it off and then let it fester until you blow up or internalize it until you become depressed. If you make a mistake, own up to it. Don’t make excuses. Say, “I’m sorry” and fix the problem you created. The more you get used to telling the truth, the easier it is to do, and this results in a more authentic life.
If you don’t believe us, consider the big news stories about corporate recalls, celebrity arrests, and politicians’ indiscretions. Some of these folks tried to skirt the truth until it was so obvious that they couldn’t run from their mistakes. Yet, some owned up to their errors upfront, apologized, and took steps to repair what was wrong. The public always has more respect and the willingness to forgive in the latter cases.
So tell the truth up front, no exceptions.
Please know that we are certainly not advocating being harsh or disrespectful with the truth, or being malicious with your words. There is always a way to graciously address any situation, no matter how uncomfortable. The trick is telling the truth nicely. This means using nice words, nice intentions, a nice tone, and nice body language.
Plain and simple: ignoring the truth or being phony feeds into the discomfort of the most awkward situations and makes them worse. Why should you tell the truth, even when it’s uncomfortable? Because being real and honest is the foundation for deep, long-term relationships.