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Kindly Be Honest November 23, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Mindfulness, People.

In To Thine Own Self Be True, I gave you an example of subtle dishonesty as it relates to the practice of law.  Here’s another, more personal, example.  

After college, a friend started dating a graduate student.  When she asked me what I thought of him, I responded, “Do you want my honest opinion?” 

She assured me that she did.

“Well, from what I’ve seen, he’s pretty sold on himself.  I expect that he will never put your interests above his own.” 

Despite having asked for my honest opinion, my answer displeased her. 

She wanted me to say what she wanted to hear ~ that she was in love with a great guy and they would live happily ever after.  

Shortly after our conversation, her relationship with the graduate student ended ~ at his request, not hers.  At that point, everyone who had told her, “He’s wonderful,” admitted  that they had not cared for him at all due to his arrogance, and assured her that she was “better off without him.” 

While the relationship was on-going, her friends and family had engaged in subtle deception.  They were “nice,” and told her what she wanted to hear, rather than being fully honest when asked for their opinion.

Years later, my friend told me what had happened when the relationship ended, and how her other friends had quickly “changed their tune.”  

She added that, while she appreciated my honesty on an intellectual level, she found that she was still angry at me for seeing something that she had not seen when “blinded by love.” 

Her anger didn’t surprise me. 

Even though she had requested my honest opinion, that’s not what she wanted ~ her Ego wanted me to  approve of her taste in men. 

If we give an honest opinion when asked for it, our response is not always going to be well received.  Some people will be angered by our honesty, and our approval rating may take a nose dive.  

But, if we are more focused on acceptance within (at the level of Spirit), than on external approval (at the level of Ego), our approval rating with others  becomes relatively unimportant:  

* We refuse to engage in subtle deception solely to gain approval from those around us.

* We set and meet our own guidelines and expectations for daily conduct. 

* We care more about our spiritual integrity, and less about what others think of us.

* We are not concerned if our view is the minority view, nor are we swayed by the ever-shifting opinions of others. 

* We use an internal compass to govern our actions.

* We gravitate towards people who value our honesty and integrity, and accept us as we are. 

And, as an added bonus, when we look in the mirror at the end of the day, we are not embarrassed by our reflection.

Quote:  Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. ~ Mahatma Gandhi


1. Barbara Gunn - November 23, 2010

An old quote, “If you don’t want the answer don’t ask the question”.

nrhatch - November 23, 2010


When someone asks for my HONEST opinion (and I suspect they are NOT going to like it), I ask them (like I did in this example), “Do you want my HONEST OPINION?”

If they say YES, then I give them my HONEST opinion.

At some level, my friend knew that she was NOT dating the man of her dreams. That’s why she kept asking OTHERS what THEY thought of him.

She wanted to know that she was making the “right choice” because (at some level) she KNEW she was dating MR. WRONG, not MR. RIGHT.

In any event, ask me for my opinion, and you will get my HONEST opinion, tempered with as much “tact” as I can muster in the situation at hand.

nrhatch - November 23, 2010

And, if they say NO, then I refrain from offering an OPINION at all by saying, “No Comment.”

But I refuse to respond to a request for an HONEST opinion by giving anything less than that . . . no matter how “fragile” their EGO appears to be at the moment.

Sometimes the best way to encourage change for the good is by shedding some HONEST LIGHT on the situation.

2. Paula Tohline Calhoun - November 23, 2010

I’m quite certain you don’t mean it the way it can be read, but TOTAL HONESTY does not necessarily have to be BRUTAL HONESTY. It is a true skill to be able to deliver the truth in ways that cause the listener to think about what has been said and not to “react” spontaneously. Now, I recognize that some may feel it is not the honest person’s “job” to consider the person to whom they are speaking, and of course how each of us responds is our own responsibility. That said, I cannot get away from the way in which I was raised, nor do I want to, at least at this point. Being honest is necessary, being honest and kind simultaneously is preferable. But being brutally honest is almost always unnecessary, and if you feel the situation requires it, carefully consider what you are saying and how you say it. They may be your last words with that person. Besides, as my Mom always said:

“Make sure your words are always sweet. That way if you have to swallow them later on, at least they’ll taste good going down!”

Then again there are always some people. . .:-D

nrhatch - November 23, 2010

I see that nowhere above did I mention being “brutally honest” but you picked up on the present focus of my thoughts. 😉


I am just putting the finishing touches on a post on Brutal Honesty. So I’ll refrain from further comment here.

Cindy - November 24, 2010

I’ll wait for the brutal one 😀

nrhatch - November 24, 2010

Turns out that my “brutal honesty” is just the “unvarnished truth.”

And, here, I thought I was such a tough guy! 😉

3. Greg Camp - November 23, 2010

It is disturbing how much lying is our social lubricant of choice. And we don’t even allow duelling anymore. . .

nrhatch - November 23, 2010

I know.

We tiptoe around the perceived sensibilities of others . . . not giving them credit for the infinite power that lies within them, because we don’t recognize that infinite power within us.

4. Joanne - November 23, 2010

Very well put, Nancy and Paula… Thank you both…!

nrhatch - November 23, 2010

St. Paula and I make quite the team . . .

Her eternal youth, inner wisdom, and effervescent love of life combined with my self-effacing personality and charm are a dynamite combination!

POW! We’ll knock your socks off. 🙂

5. Amy @ Soul Dipper - November 23, 2010

A critical topic, Nancy, and a great one to fall under the title of your blog.

As I’ve worked with, walked with and loved many people who have deserved only the truth (who doesn’t?), I’ve agonized over this one for years. For years I delivered the bare bones truth, as, I thought, everyone *should*, and cringed over the consequences.

Who would have guessed my Guides would be my saving grace? They taught me an approach some time ago. I hadn’t even asked for this “advice” – they volunteered it when they told me I had to accept that people seek my input. They were very gently helping me with a feeling of responsibility I used to lay on myself – “Well, I’m just telling the truth.” Truth and honesty had always been, and still are, taproots of my life.

It stung and was confusing when I was told by a loved one to work on my tact. In so doing (a huge project for me), I learned that I do not head the Department of Honesty. That’s God’s job – along with a lot of His ‘hangers-on’ who know how to manipulate the truth in many ways. That’s something that must be hard for lawyers!

I learned that when I really care for someone, I cannot avoid being honest. But how to serve it without pain…

Here’s what the Guides said…I’m really grateful for their counsel – it works for me:

When I’m asked my honest opinion, I ask those people what is making them ask the question. Those capable of being honest with themselves answer their own question. Every person has the answer within themselves. If I love them, I will help them find the answer.

When my ego is out of control, I think I have to answer them. When I’m busy, it’s easier to just answer. When my heart is engaged, however, I take the time to “walk with them” through their self-questioning so they see themselves. And it takes time. Amazing results that empower them.

In Conversations With God (wish I could put my finger on which volume – I need a concordance) a fabulous concept was given. This is the essence – Being honest with another is the highest form of giving love. If we don’t care about someone, we either deliver truth in lethal doses or we won’t bother.

I say (ad nauseum) to the women I mentor about delivering the truth, “What is your motive?” If their honesty is truly coming from a place of love, the delivery brings positive response. Truly is the key word. That’s where they (and I) work the hardest…looking at ourselves and seeing the truth about what our egos are doing.

I apologize, Nancy – this is long enough to be a post. But of all the virtues, this one is my star.

nrhatch - November 23, 2010

No apology necessary ~ I don’t see a single extraneous word in your comment.

To communicate effectively, as you note, we must sometimes take our time to communicate fully.

When dealing with victims of domestic violence, I declined to answer them if they wanted to know what THEY should do. Instead, I took the time to discuss options with them and ask questions of THEM . . . to make them remember that THEY are the only expert on THEIR life.

Sometimes, we would exhaust EVERY option without finding the right solution for them. But, almost always, they concluded the conversation by saying, “Thank you. I feel so much better. It’s been a long time since anyone really LISTENED to me.”

The BEST way to LOVE is to LISTEN. 🙂

nrhatch - November 23, 2010

In the example above, with what I know now, I would probably do what your guides suggested, and what I learned to do with victims of DV . . .

Take the time to ASK questions and LISTEN rather than sharing my OPINION. Just as I have learned to seek my own counsel by looking within, if I have the time, and I care enough, I now encourage others to do the same ~ at least on significant issues such as this.

(If they just want my opnion about which color looks best on them, I’m not inclined to take the time to walk them through their options.)

The need for all of us to look within for guidance is why I wrote the post, Embrace Your Inner Calvin. No one else can TEACH us how to access the JOY, PEACE, and HAPPINESS within, that’s our job. 🙂

But this post (and the previous post ~ To Thine Own Self Be True) recount the responses of a far younger, and less experienced seeker of “truth.”

6. kateshrewsday - November 23, 2010

Thanks for this. King Lear comes to mind: didn’t want to hear the truth and reaped the bitter harvest.

Was drawn to this post by your cat pictures – that’s not James The Cat is it? Now there was a chap who was true to his own self…

nrhatch - November 23, 2010

Hi Kate! I’ve seen you around the blogosphere for some time. Thanks for stopping by.

It IS James the Cat! Borrowed from avatarist.com. He seems quite true to his inner being. 😉

7. Brown Eyed Mystic - November 23, 2010

It’s simple: If you really care, you will be honest.

I have met with this bumper many times, especially with my immediate family. Mom said to me a few times that I have to try and be softer. She may be right.

Strangely though, I didn’t exhibit much honesty with people I didn’t care too much about. I would do the pretend act in college and school, if a girlfriend needed counselling or friendly advice because of her boyfriend. I was mostly “semi-harsh” if you know what I mean. But eventually, if I saw they were going downhill would I switch gears to “fully-harsh” 😉

Great post by the way.


nrhatch - November 23, 2010

Often, the importance of the issue, and the time I have to devote to it, dictates my response:

* Someone who is just looking for “permission” to act badly, like the attorney in To Thine Own Self Be True, rarely gets much time ~ just my HONEST answer. If they don’t like it, too bad. I don’t view it as my problem.

* A victim of Domestic Violence gets my undivided attention and time . . . in an effort to show them how to give themselves the advice they need.

* Someone who is “whining” to me for the 10th time about the same issue is apt to get (using your words) a “fully-harsh” reality check, which they can take or leave. Makes no difference to me.

* When I feel that someone is honestly seeking my counsel, and is OPEN to engaging in some HONEST self-appraisal, I try to make the time to assist them unearth the answers they seek.

It’s often situationally dependent, as you have noted.

Thanks BrownEyed!

8. Friendships Based On Mutual Distrust | Spirit Lights The Way - January 21, 2015

[…] Related post:  Kindly Be Honest […]

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