The Adventures Of Alan – Honesty Is Not Always The Best Policy
If I had to pick one trait that I value the most in this world, it would be honesty. It’s the one thing I can definitively point to and recognise as a key part of what makes me, me. It’s my default setting and it informs my approach to the challenges that life throws at us all. I want to be open, I want to take responsibility for my words and actions. I want the freedom to speak my mind and I want to be as honest with others as I am with myself. I believe that honesty is the best path towards respect and, besides, I can’t blag anything for toffee. Because, for me, the shame of being found out would be psychologically destructive, like if I heard Muller had discontinued the Banana Choco Crunch Corner.
Now, I realise that may sound like one of the worst humblebrags ever; a self critique straight out of the David Brent managerial handbook, but as I said, I’m honest and it’s certainly true that this is what I believe. However, it remains an ideal, it doesn’t always work in practice and there probably is such a thing as being too honest.
Case in point: A few days ago, I bumped into my store manager (a person at least three rungs above me) on several occasions in a short space of time and, making small talk, she jokingly said:
“Are you following me or something?”
To which I replied, impulsively:
“Err, no, I actively try to avoid you”
Nice. Real nice Alan. I even took myself by surprise with that because I’d applied so much edge to such a needless truth that I had to row back with half a chuckle to make it seem like I was joking too. I don’t dislike the person, they’re perfectly adequate, it’s just that I’m often busy and I don’t like my rhythm disrupted.
That’s not an isolated incident either and I’ve since come to realise that honesty is a sword that requires a deft hand to wield it. Turns out, I’m a clumsy swordsman; something which may also explain why people at work relay news to me as if they’re delivering a live grenade through a letterbox. I’m not so much a rapier in the agile hands of a musketeer, I’m William Wallace’s broadsword, smashing down your front door demanding to know where my freedom is.
There is a distinction, of course, between lying and deceit and I need to remember that. There can be benevolence in white lies. When someone places a landmine of a question before you such as:
“What do you think of my new hat?”
It’s an opportunity to do the wrong thing, technically speaking, but for the right reasons. All you have to say is:
“You know what, mate? That’s a bloody nice hat”
Rather than shatter their self esteem by saying:
“Take that bowler hat off, you’re not Winston Churchill, you don’t even look as good as Churchill the insurance dog. What is this? The 1930’s?”
I’ll continue to wear my honesty as a badge of honour but I should probably be a little more careful about how I deliver it.
Written by Alan Hancock
Image by TemperateSage on Pixabay