Is it always the best policy to be honest?
Is there a time sometimes that we need to not be honest?
Every month here at True Balance Karate we have a word of the month. That’s part of our social-emotional learning program called True Character.
This month’s word of the month is honesty.
Honesty means being straightforward and truthful in words and actions.
So is honesty always the best policy? Yeah, pretty much.
But, is there ever any time where maybe you shouldn’t be honest? Well, let’s talk about that a little bit…
This time of year especially, lots of gifts get handed out. If your grandma and grandpa give you a gift and you absolutely hate it, is that a time to be honest? Probably not.
I’ll never forget the year when Mr. Jack Jack, our secondary black belt here, was little and we were in my mom’s basement. He got a gift and opened it up, ripped it open.
He looked at it and blurted out, “I got this yesterday!” and threw it down.
Now, that was honest. He did get that yesterday.
However, is that really a good thing for Mr. Jack Jack to have done? No.
When we’re opening presents and we’re getting gifts, people put thought into it. People put energy into it. It doesn’t help at all to tell them that we really don’t like it, right?
I always told my kids when they were young, “Hey, if you get something you already have or you don’t like, that means we can return it and you can pick out whatever you want.”
So sometimes, especially this time of year, somebody puts in a lot of effort and really tries hard. It doesn’t pay to tell them you don’t like it.
Let’s be nice with our friends and our family.
Now, here’s another time when it may be OK to not be fully honest.
Let’s say you’re planning a surprise party Saturday night for one of your friends.
You’re getting all it together and they’re asking you, “Hey, what are we going to John’s house for?”
Is it okay to be dishonest to them then? Sure.
If you say, “Hey, we’re going to head over to our friend’s house Saturday. I’m going to pick you up and I’ll bring you over there.”
And they say, “Oh, what are we going there for?”
“A surprise party for you. And everybody’s going to be there. And when we walk in, they’re all going to yell, ‘Surprise’ and throw some things in the air and give you birthday presents.”
Okay, well, that would be honest, but probably not the right thing to do right at that moment.
It’s okay, especially when you’re covering a surprise.
Guessing what their gift is
If somebody’s trying to guess their gift, it’s also okay to not be honest.
Years ago, Master H was trying to get Ms. Becca to tell her what we got her for Christmas.
And she was guessing through them all, because she doesn’t like surprises.
We got her some nice, big, tall, fancy boots. I had Ms. Becca help me pick them out. She was maybe eight or nine at the time.
Master H was going through all this stuff: “Did you get me this? Did you get me that?”
Finally she said, “Did you get me boots?”
And Ms. Becca went, “Aah!”
Well, that was honest. She told her. However, it’s kind of nice to maintain the surprise.
That would’ve been an okay time for her to say, “No, we didn’t get you that.”
Do you like my haircut?
Here’s another time for honesty or not for honesty.
What if somebody asks you if you like their haircut?
Is it okay to be dishonest sometimes? Well, it kind of depends on the person.
Sometimes I’ll even ask, “Do you want my real opinion or do you just want validation?”
If it’s your very best friend and they’re really looking for an answer and you have that relationship with the person, you can be somewhat honest but don’t have to be fully honest.
Maybe your opinion is, “it kind of looks like a squirrel died on your head.”
However, you know it might not be good if you said it that way, even though the first thing you thought when you saw him was, “Wow, looks like you got a dead animal on your head or you walked through a bunch of leaves with a sticky head.”
That might be your first opinion, but it probably isn’t helpful to be honest about that one.
You might want to actually say to them, “Well, I don’t know. What do you think?”
Maybe if it’s somebody you have a close relationship with, you’re honest, but in a little bit more of a nice way: “I don’t know if I would make that choice. You might want to think about that again.”
Maybe it’s just a relative you don’t know very well and you don’t have that relationship with, so you just say, “That’s nice.”
Dealing with strangers
Are we honest with strangers?
If a stranger comes up to you and says, “Hey, what’s the password to your phone? Where do you live? What’s your phone number and your bank account?”
You say, “I’m not telling you any of that.”
If somebody comes up to you and asks you personal information, it is more than okay to tell them, “No, I’m not telling you.”
If they insist, it’s okay to be dishonest.
Them: “Where do you live?”
You: “555, none of your business. That’s where I live.”
Sometimes we have to do that to protect ourselves.
Use your good judgment
You don’t have to be honest all the time with everyone.
If you just went to the bathroom and somebody says, “What did you do this morning?” you don’t have to be honest and say, “Well, I spent a bit of time in the bathroom.”
Sometimes it’s okay to say something a bit more like, “Well, I had a good morning.”
Does that make sense? Good.
So we want to make sure that we understand we’re honest all the time. We want to be an honest person, but we also want to be respectful.
We don’t want to ruin surprises.
We don’t want to hurt people’s feelings.
So we want to think about what it means to sometimes be too honest.
Thanks. And have a good day.
– Master Helsdon