Is honesty the best policy?
Recently, I lost a bet and as a result had to be absolutely honest with everyone for a week. It’s been a no bull, no lies and, arguably, no tact time. So how did I go? Is honesty the best policy?
This was tough, because like lots of us I am somewhat mealy mouthed. As a rule I’d rather keep my thoughts to myself and avoid confrontation than speak my mind.
But a forfeit’s a forfeit and I had to lift the filter and go for some straight talkin’. Here’s a selection of scenarios I encountered.
In a café
“How was the coffee?”
Would normally have said: “Fine!”
Had to say: “It’s not as good as the one I had in the café next door.”
To my cleaner
Would normally have said: “Thanks so much for all you’ve done, but I can’t justify the expense of a cleaner at the moment so I’m going to have to let you go.”
"Overall the honesty experiment was refreshing in a cold shower, hot lemon drink way."
Had to say: “I’ve found a cleaner who costs the same but is more thorough than you.”
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To the greengrocer
Would normally have said: Nothing, most of the time.
Had to say: “You’ve rung up the wrong price. They’re $10 a kilo, not $5.”
I did feel awkward, but told myself my unminced words gave these businesses some food for thought. So much more useful and meaningful than the usual platitudes.
I wasn’t taking any prisoners back at the ranch, either, when I told my two year old daughter she was getting on my nerves. I did apologise to her later. Normally I’d have masked my anger, then felt sorry for myself later.
Overall the honesty experiment was refreshing in a cold shower, hot lemon drink way. But I didn’t feel entirely comfortable. We tell ourselves honesty matters, yet I always worried whether I was being appropriate.
The experiment is now over and on balance, I’ve decided to try to speak out a bit more. Before blurting anything out, though, I’ll try and gauge how I’d feel to be on the receiving end.
After all, no-one likes a one-armed waiter, you know the ones who can dish it out, but can’t take it back.
So what say you? Does criticism help you grow or does it give you the hump? Is honesty the best policy?