The importance of effective communication is often discussed in business circles as well as personal therapy, or in coaching sessions. Communication is important to work on as we learn and grow personally and professionally. But our honesty threshold is often overlooked. Today, people are investing huge amounts of time and money into learning better communication skills, sales and marketing techniques, working with a personal trainer, and dressing for success. But few courses are taught about honesty and authenticity, and far too few of us are thinking about this. What will be the long-term effect of this on society, on future generations, on our children?
Honesty and authenticity are not easy because as human-beings we naturally try to avoid or hide uncomfortable or difficult feelings from others. There is actually nothing negative about this, we are trying to find people we feel truly safe with.
Far too often in effective communication workshops, honesty and authenticity is overlooked. Or, it is a small aspect of the training. We need to work to cultivate deeper communication with others, this is challenging because being honest has its risks, it means we have to stay connected to our head and heart, and this is not an easy place to live. However, honesty and authenticity will be the root that binds the quality of your relationships – be the relationship with your loving partner, friend or business partner.
Honesty – A Moving Plate
Since the start of human civilization, honesty has been acclaimed as something of incredible value. Given the natural tendency of humans to stay away from or avoid negative feelings, we can be tempted to be dishonest or to avoid our own honesty in challenging relationships or situations. Furthermore, honesty is a forever moving plate with others because every interaction has a start and departure. This means we need to constantly navigate our own honesty threshold because every interaction requires us to respond from within ourselves, to others.
It is important to learn to be able to distinguish between being honest with yourself, and honest with others. It is also important to know what you want to be private about with others. Honesty is relative because as human-beings we all have our distortions of the truth, as we all contextualize our experience from our viewpoint, and this is slightly self-deceptive to a degree. Due to this phenomenon, what we can do in our relationships is try to bring our most genuine, sincere, authentic self forward in our relationships, this is, about as honest as we can be. As although honesty with others is highly desirable, it is often very difficult to maintain in our day-to-day life. This is because we have unconscious defense mechanisms that we use to navigate life and survive, and emotional triggers. Depending on situations, it becomes necessary to omit or hide information in our personal and professional life. For example, you cannot be completely authentic in evaluating your performance while you are in a job because you will have blind spots. Sometimes another person might not need as much information or honesty as you might reveal. Honesty can too, at times, backfire. However, by choosing to work at being more and more authentic in everyday life, it is possible to improve our honesty threshold. A greater developed honesty threshold builds a person’s inner world and character.
The Power of Honesty to Oneself
There are several ways you can benefit by being honest, but most of all it will help you to develop inner emotional strength. When you are honest with yourself and bring this honesty to others you will experience an increase in confidence. You will feel more grounded when you are confident. Confidence opens the door to a life of success, fulfillment and happiness.
However, honesty can be challenging in important relationships because you may need to admit what you are not good at, or say you are sorry! Or, in a loving relationship honesty can be challenging because here you are your most vulnerable. But, this is also a doorway to deeper courage and deeper love, and where you can learn to really trust another.
It can be a rare quality to find a deeply honest person, because we all usually do things we regret or are embarrassed about in life, and we are naturally more comfortable sharing our ‘good points’ as human-beings! But, by working on the habit of being more authentic and honest you can generate more intimacy, depth, and authenticity in your relationship with your partner and with others. Furthermore, honesty facilitates the feeling of being complete and whole with yourself.
Honesty comes with a set of health benefits too. According to the study ‘Science of Honesty’, which was presented at the American Psychological Association in 2012, telling the truth when tempted to lie can significantly improve a person’s mental and physical health.¹
Honesty is considered a positive trait in individuals. When you are honest, you usually have clarity and can therefore put your best foot forward. If you are feeling off center it may be time to be private about a matter and consider if you want to share it. Learning to work with and manage your energy is an ongoing, daily process.
Watch out for strong people or strong peoples opinions directed at you. You will have your own thoughts, beliefs and opinions. Go within and see what is true for you. A good measure of someone’s genuineness is – do they care, or is their ego doing the talking? This is a good measuring stick. We should always live true to our own self honesty and guidance and our own truth, and not the opinions of others.
Recent studies show that honest behavior is better for our emotional intelligence too. It improves our individual ability to read other’s emotions.²
Honesty is not easy. Those that say it is are not digging deep into themselves. However, we need to work on our honesty threshold as this is like living in our center. From here you can develop a more loving relationship with yourself and others. It is about being true to who you are, and then letting that truth permeate into the heart of another. It will require courage, but through risking giving yourself fully to a relationship, you can truly feel yourself. You can embody self-acceptance and your authentic self more and more by being true to yourself, and another person accepting and loving you as you are. Isn’t that what you always wanted?