SHOULD YOU TELL THE TRUTH ALWAYS ?
by Dr. DJ
You ask 10 people what a “friend” is and you will get 10 different answers, but one theme that shows up a LOT is something like, ‘someone I can be myself with” or “someone I can be honest with” or “someone who I do not have to be afraid of telling it like it is with” – or, in other words, SOMEONE WHO I CAN TELL THE TRUTH TO AND NOT GET HURT.
And that raises the basic question: Should you lie to a friend?
So, today, I am going to quote some authorities, then I will – as always give you my take on it.
How this started
I was doing some research on friendships and got into “honesty” as a topic. Supposedly, one reason for a “friend” is to have someone you can be totally honest with. And that – being honest – is supposed to be good and healthy. Well is it?
In NFL football, on a contested play when a coach throws the red flag, the referee “goes under the hood and reviews the play” then the announcer says, “A decision has been reached!”
In my research, I think the announcer would say, “The indecision has been reached!”
Makes no sense until you look at this. As soon as I started researching, first on Google, two sites came up. First one was:
Why Honest Isn’t Always the Best Policy
The second one was:
Why Honesty Is Always The Best Policy
So, what do you think? Should you always tell your friend the truth? Or is it one of those, “In some cases we should lie”? — that aggravating “It depends” answer.
Brightside.me website says:
Here are a few reasons why you should always be honest:
• The truth will always come out, so by lying you are only ’buying time’ but it will probably be worse when it’s revealed that you lied as well.
• You will feel better about yourself if you are honest and open.
• Others will be able to trust you – and trust is the basis for all relationships.
• Others will seek your honest advice and opinion.
• You won’t have to remember and maintain a web of lies. Lies usually lead to more lies to cover up the initial lies, creating a vicious cycle.
• Lying is an easy way out, by being honest you learn to tackle difficult or uncomfortable situations and grow as a person.
“Whether you’re getting it off your chest, venting, expressing yourself, airing your feelings or “just being honest,” the truth about honesty is that honesty is not always the best policy.
What’s more, continuing on the path of full disclosure can actually put a permanent closure on your relationships! The reality is we don’t need knives or guns to mortally wound those closest to us. Words cut like knives and it’s easy to bury your relationship with the verbal cuts of a “truthful” tongue.
The truth is honesty is often a veiled form of self-indulgence.
What do I mean by self-indulgence?
In a nutshell, when feelings build-up, it’s frustrating to “sit” on them. And, of course, it feels damn good to release them. That feel-good sensation is a form of gratification. It’s like taking an emotional poop, which provides an instant release of pressure. But when we dump emotional turds on others, we are flushing our relationships down the toilet.”
[End of quote]
So, Dr. Turndorf is speaking about the familiar, “I’m JUST BEING HONEST” when the truth is you are dumping on someone and posing as holding the high ground. It is a narrow avenue on our topic.
A friend of mine, Chuck, whose thoughts I highly value, when asked, “Do you ever lie?” answered in a heartbeat: “Yes, in two situations: 1) If it’s nobody’s business; or, 2) If it will hurt someone if I don’t.”
A refreshingly clear and honest statement about when to lie. I can respect that!
I found Carolyn Steber’s article on Bustle.com, also clearly middle of the road, but makes sense – almost: See what you think about the 11 instances when she states you should withhold the truth:
11 Times When Being Honest Is Almost Never Worth It
1. When around toxic people.
2. When asked personal questions at work.
3. When someone you love has failed.
4. When someone is looking for your approval.
5. When sharing embarrassing stories from your past.
6. When you don’t like someone’s food.
7. When someone asks if they look okay.
8. When someone is sharing an exciting idea.
9. When coming clean after an affair.
10. When breaking up with someone.
11. When you just do not want to share.
[End of quote]
You know, those sound good at first blush but see if you agree with me. After I read through these I got this message: It is okay to say to yourself, ‘Oh, in these 11 instances, lying is acceptable.’
The 3rd Choice – in answer to “Should you tell the truth?”
Perhaps the healthiest answer is a 3rd Choice. Read that above list of 11 again and say this instead — and see if YOU agree.
1 – Silence.
2 – Or “I would rather not say.”
3 – Or “I really don’t know how I feel about that.”
4 – Or, “I would need a lot more information before I could tell you.”
It would be honest (if you mean it), and yet does not hurt you or anyone else. And, to me, it is a lot better than deliberately lying. What do you think?
We get confused
I read one time that people lie over 150 times a day. Another study said we lie 2 or 3 times every ten minutes in a conversation. Another said, we lie once or twice a day.
We get confused because of an unclear definition. What is truth? What is lying? Are there “White lies”? Is being “Straightforward the same as telling the truth?” Etc. ad infinitum.
We might just “lie” 150 times a day if you define a lie as exaggerating, aggrandizing, lying to yourself – saying you will do something, like start that diet tomorrow, when you know you won’t; or, saying, “I will meet you at noon.” When you know damn well you are ALWAYS 5 -10 minutes late. How many times a day do we shade/shape the truth to make ourselves look okay? How often do we make hollow promises to ourselves and/or others?
Truth prevents bad health…
I want to wrap this up with a study from two Notre Dame researchers who did a very simple study that makes huge point. It is about your health and truth.
Drs. Anita Kelley and Lijuan Wang, both professor/researchers at Notre Dame published a 2014 report on an experiment they conducted with volunteers. 72 healthy adults (with an average age of 41) were recruited through newspapers in the South Bend, Indiana community. They were randomly assigned to two groups: a Sincerity group, and a Control group. Both groups came to the laboratory each week for 5 weeks to complete polygraph tests and anonymous health measures.
The Control Group was told nothing, just tested every week. The Sincerity Group was told the following:
“Throughout every day of the next 5 weeks, you must speak honestly, truthfully, and sincerely—not only about the big things, but also about the small things, such as why you were late. You must always mean what you say in situations where your statements are to be taken seriously, as opposed to when joking or obviously exaggerating. While you certainly can choose not to answer questions, you must always mean what you say.”
The results according to the two psychologists
“What was so amazing is that in the fifth and final week of the study, the Sincerity group reported significantly fewer physical health complaints than the Control group. Specifically, they had experienced an average of 7 fewer symptoms such as sore throats, headaches, nausea that week. Because the only difference between the two groups was the sincerity instructions, we can conclude that these instructions actually caused the health benefit.”
Dr. Hill concluded:
“It might not be easy to “always mean what you say.” You might find that you have to go back and correct some of the things that pop out of your mouth. But don’t let that discourage you. Being sincere is a process and you will get there with practice. And when you do, you will see that you are becoming more humble, more open to learning, and less sensitive to rejection. Being sincere brings you closer to the decent people you know, pushes away the naysayers, and allows you to feel a certain hopefulness about the world. To the extent that you experience these, I believe you too will have profound health benefits.”
[End of quote]
So, there are both sides plus a bonus reason to be honest: You will be healthier! Do you like being sick? No? Well, this might be a clue if you are ill a lot. Interpret that any way you wish.
Dr. DJ’s advice: I will keep it short and simple. Tell the truth or be silent. It is totally okay to say, “I don’t want to get into that.” Then, “Let’s talk about something else!”