Guest Article Tuesday
Note From Stephen: I get a lot of requests for guest articles. I’ve decided to create a new feature called Guest Article Tuesday where readers or other bloggers can express their ideas to my readers. This is a guest article by Eduard Ezeanu who writes at People Skills Decoded.
Honesty seems to be one of those things we all value but we often stray from practicing. But really, if you talk with people about honesty (which I do a lot), you discover that many only value it only at a superficial level, as an unpractical virtue.
When it comes to real life situations, people will point out how frequently a small lie will get you immediate benefits or save you from negative consequences. They think: what’s the point of telling your boss you don’t listen to jazz music, which he’s a big fan of, when you could just lie that you do and impress him on the spot?
If you look at it like that, it makes sense. But we’re not going to look at it like that right now. We’re going to take an in-depth and in-perspective look at the matter. By the end of this analysis, we will have a clear picture why honesty saves the day.
The escalation of lying
I am a really bad liar. It’s not that I can’t lie, it’s that if I do lie, I have to keep track of my lies, make sure they’re consistent one with the other and that nothing smells fishy.
And it’s not just me. People in general have this problem. You tell your boss you like jazz, then your colleagues find out and you end up telling them the same lie. But one of your colleagues which you talk to often knows that you actually hate jazz, so you have to explain the situation to him and make sure he keeps your secret.
Eventually, you find yourself developing a web of lies to keep one lie from being found. The lying escalates and you struggle to keep the web together. Lying on the spot may be easy. But keeping the truth from being found out is usually damn hard. Sometimes, you just need to look back and ask yourself: is it worth it?
Shooting yourself in the foot
My big problem with lying is how it creates contexts which may initially be favorable to you, but which in time become the worst possible. It’s the result of very narrow thinking which ignores the long term effects.
You lie at an interview about your professional skills and you get the job you applied for, which is good. But then you find yourself working like a mule because the job is too much for your real skills, and regretting you got it in the first place. So what was the point of lying at the interview anyway?
I see this kind of event happening all the time. And I find it amusing how easy it is for us to not stop to notice the correlation between lying and the long term negative effects, so we keep being dishonest and paying for it.
Honesty as the ingredient of trust
There is a lot of talk in business and not only about the importance of building trust. And for good reasons. Trust based relationships have become the essential ingredient of extraordinary results, in one’s professional and personal life.
But what is the essential ingredient of trust? I believe it’s honesty. You can only trust a person when she is willing to tell you the truth even if you don’t like it or it will hurt her in the short-term. It’s this kind of person that you want to get feedback from, that you want to work or do business with, that you want to have in your life.
Sure, honesty is risky. But that’s exactly why it’s such an appreciated thing. Since being honest means taking some risks, honesty is the accessory of the confident, powerful people, not of the needy or desperate. And people like these demand respect through their way of beeping.
When you look at the big picture and you also look at the fine details, you see that honesty is a philosophy of business and life which consistently creates the best results. This is why it’s worth making honesty a practical value you live by.
Eduard Ezeanu is a communication coach with an attitude-based approach. He teaches people how to put their best foot forward in communication and get top notch results. He also writes on his blog, People Skills Decoded.