Honesty Is Still the Best Policy


I think most of us have faced the dilemma of trying to figure out how to answer a tough question honestly. Think of how often somebody asks your opinion about a food dish they prepared or whether you like a television show or political candidate and you’re unsure of how to answer because of the risk of hurting their feelings. I still believe honesty is the best policy. With a little bit of thought, you can answer someone truthfully without hurting their feelings.

In your family, do you have a reputation as a truth teller or as a liar? To my definition, lying includes telling your family you’re going to do something or be somewhere and failing to follow through. When a person lies to avoid hurting someone’s feelings, they set themselves up to be viewed as untrustworthy and they get caught up in a lying cycle. Without trust, there is no intimacy. Without intimacy, it’s difficult to create bonds of love in a family.

I think the ultimate betrayal a spouse can experience is if their mate, who they trust implicitly, has an affair. The fact that their spouse had sex with someone else is devastating enough, but the lying and deceitfulness that accompanies it is even worse. It can take a long time for them to learn to trust their spouse again, and they may never regain that trust. Rebuilding that trust requires patience on the part of the betrayer, but if they are genuine about wanting to repair the damage, they will wait as long as it takes, even when days and months turn into years.

If you have a reputation in your family as a liar, the only way you’re going to change it is by starting to tell the truth. Practice it regularly. Even if a question is difficult to answer without affecting someone’s feelings, make sure to be candid. For example, take the classic question that a wife might ask her husband, “Does this dress make me look fat?” If the husband thinks the outfit is not flattering, he can answer with a question like, “What don’t you like about that dress?” The goal is to get the dialogue going in another direction that leads the wife to decide about wearing it.

More importantly, if you make a promise to do something, go forward with it at all costs. If you have any shred of doubt whether you can make something happen, don’t promise that you can. Strive to be a truth teller in your family and you will win more often at home.