If you've ever had a conversation with me, you'd know that I don't have the best social skills. I spent a significant period of my life avoiding other people to the point where I became an expert at alienating others. Nowadays, I'm a very loud and outspoken person and I have no problems speaking my mind regardless of whether or not it might offend someone (It has its ups and downs, but I’m working on it).
In other words, when it comes to being honest I happen to know a thing or two, having considered the concept a core value of mine.
From my perspective, honesty means speaking the truth, even to your own disadvantage.
However, that is not to say, "be a rat," rather, it's taking accountability for your own actions, and when necessary the actions of others. There's a Stoic aspect to it, that is to say, that, you should be fully mindful of what you have control over. If you have control over it, take responsibility for it. If you should fail to meet that responsibility, don't hide it. Even if you want to hide it, even if it's to your own disadvantage, act accountable for your failures and the problems that they may or may not cause.
It's been said that the first step to solving any problem is acknowledging that there IS one. That is undeniably true. If that problem was the result of something that you did or failed to do, own up to it. Denial of failures and mistakes leads to more failures and mistakes. Likewise, blaming others does nothing to solve the problem.
Such reactions to personal faults result in dishonest behavior, especially if you succeed in placing the blame on someone else or just simply denying any sort of responsibility, for that which you were responsible for.
For example, if you were assigned to a group for a project and the project leader assigns you a task to keep the work evenly spaced, if you blow it off to the last minute and fail to get the work in when it's due, you have the decision to do either of the following:
- Lie and say the project leader didn't ask you directly to do that work or wasn't specific about what they wanted from you.
- Tell the truth and say you blew it off to the last minute and deal with the consequences of your inactions.
The decision to choose the honest route is not always easy, but it is the right decision.
Accountability is the first step to atonement.
Backpedaling to "speaking the truth," again, I'll say that doesn't mean being a rat. It means saying the hard things, that on most occasions, people don't want to hear, but they need to hear. Even if it's just calling people on their bull****, say something. That is honesty…simply pointing out the elephant in the room, because somebody always has to. I'm not saying repeat what I do, which is speak with a loose filter (again, I’m working on it), especially if you don't want to offend or accidentally insult someone.
Despite this, I think that interactions between individuals, especially in the case of relationships (for communication's sake) should be as open and direct as is humanly possible. Talk about everything, and leave nothing out. Even at the expense of your own pride and comfort. After all, which is better, a world where nobody lies or a world where nobody tells truth? In other words, that means: don't do anything that you wouldn't want to confess to and always keep your word.
Always tell the truth, even to your own disadvantage.
If you value honesty, you should practice it every day of your life.
Honesty is above all else, a foundation whose walls (those being: accountability, truth, mindfulness and directness) support a roof that shelters us through harsh weather. Though that roof itself may become worn out or slightly broken at times, with a strong foundation of honesty supporting that roof, and an uncompromising set of walls, it will always be on stable ground.