Wednesday, 13 May 2015

100% honesty, honestly?

Is this one of your values?

Yet another discussion about values, yet another discussion about honesty, and yet again gasps when I suggest it's not a value I'm comfortable to sign up to!

Hear me when I say, it's how I associate the word and not the principle that makes me hesitant. It's not that I believe in dishonesty at work (or anywhere*) but I think that having honesty as a value can be quite challenging because there is often more than one truth, it sometimes hurts, and there's often more than one way of presenting it.

For example, as a HR professional, I may get asked for details about someone or something that I can't disclose. My likely response is that 'I'm afraid I'm not able to discuss that with you'. And that would be A truth, one honest response, and only in part. In part because, I'm probably not really afraid, but I am polite. And secondly not the only truth because the other truth would be to disclose what I know and that truth just isn't an option.

Similarly, on a personal level, when I've been asked my opinion of someone - If my honest answer is negative the chances are I may have said - I don't know them that well, or I've shared something positive about them despite my personal feelings. Otherwise, honesty can become the ingredient for gossip. Honesty - good. Gossip - not so!

And in my role as an image consultant, I'd also be cautious of being 'honest' because sometimes honesty is brutal (which is often the case when people self-judge). Imagine someone wearing something I considered really didn't suit them at an event and was asked publicly if I liked it. Would anyone think it a good idea that I said straight-up that I hated it? I certainly wouldn't. Whilst I wouldn't lie and say 'I love it, you look fabulous darling'!, I would temper the truth, eg 'I prefer your x outfit' or 'it's nice' (not the same as 'you look nice') or 'you are wearing it with a swagger and that's always a good look'.

In summary: I tell the truth, but sometimes it's tempered.

I've met people (who I'm sure you have too) who have lost their sensitivity, and more, behind the mask of honesty.

So for me I prefer to wrap my honesty in a value like integrity which I feel allows me to to make a judgement about how I apply the principle with some reasonableness, kindness and diplomacy.

I'd love to hear your thoughts about honesty - if it's one of your values, what makes it so; and if it isn't, why, and how do you deal with people's reaction to that?

* Confession: it would be dishonest of me to say to my 7yo that there's no ice-cream in the freezer when there is, but I've done just that #naughtymummy!

Thanks for reading,
Denise x

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