Honesty. Truth-Telling.

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A closeup mirror reflection of a woman's face, selective focus

I know that we all want to be liked.

It feels good when people like us. We get included to do things and go places, people don’t gossip about us, and we’re part of the ‘in’ crowd. However, this need to be liked can compel us to comply with things we don’t agree with – perhaps even things we don’t believe in – and not speak up about something we know to be an injustice.

Values. Tell the Truth.

When being liked or approved of is the driving force of our existence – for whatever reason – we sometimes do things that go against our values.

I first discovered the value of telling the truth and how much courage it takes about twenty-five years ago. The lesson for me was painful yet memorable. Perhaps because I was on the receiving end. My mentor was the first person who had the courage to tell me the truth about my inappropriate behavior, the poor choices I made, and how I affected others.

Her candor provided me with not only useful feedback that changed my life but also an example of how, if you really love someone, you have a responsibility to tell him or her the truth. And with truth comes the risk of loss.

By having the courage to tell me the truth, she helped me step out of the darkness and into the light. When I did something well, she told me. When I made an effort, she celebrated my trying. She appreciated every baby step I took. And she never hesitated to let me know when something didn’t work or there was room for improvement. It was her willingness to tell me the truth that sends the greatest message. And truth-telling is only one aspect of living honestly.

So even though we say we value honesty, why do we accept and sometimes encourage dishonesty? Because it’s often easy, safe, and doesn’t require much thought. Dishonesty is easier to justify if our role models aren’t honest, the lie is about a seemingly small and unimportant thing.

How often do you slant the truth in an effort to be liked? To get something you want? To get votes? To make a little extra money?

As human beings, sometimes we don’t tell the truth. Sometimes we cheat on taxes, test and relationships. Sometimes we are just afraid to be real. And for every time we are dishonest, stretch the truth, or interpret the truth in our favor, there’s a payoff. There is always a payoff. Bring to mind a situation where you weren’t honest in your dealings with another person? What was the payoff? And for every payoff, there is a price. What was yours?

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