Overdoing honesty

*Big thanks to Henry Petty for sharing his thoughts in today’s blog post.*

I’m a little too honest.  I believe that “honesty is always the best policy”.  “The truth shall set you free.”

interviewHowever, it’s not always the best policy, nor will it set you free if you overdo it.  I had an epiphany after an experience with a job interview and a follow-up with my interview coach, and I’m grateful for that gift of wisdom.  How can being too honest be such a bad thing?

 

 

Por ejemplo,

 

 

I was asked in a job interview, “Tell us about a time when a co-worker really frustrated you.  How did you react?”

Being the honest Henry I am, I told them about how a co-worker was irritating me by asking me the same question over and over, yet never took the initiative to learn it themselves, as I have.  I gave her an ultimatum:  I’ll give you an answer one last time, and you’d better write it down, because next time I’m not going to give it to you.

 

 

Wrong answer.

 

 

I never got a callback for that job, and a mentor and interview coach told me I could have answered that better, sans the honesty.

 

 

I’m an honest person, and I wouldn’t judge someone else for that, and I wouldn’t expect anybody else to judge me.  While it’s great to have that honesty that I’m a little too comfortable with, I can have that internal honesty and measure the ways I express it with other people.

 

 

A better answer to that question would have been, “I identified my co-worker was frustrating me and, instead of taking a negative approach, I internalized that and used what was frustrating me internally to create a positive response.  I coached my co-worker, gave her some tips and asked her to write down what her questions were to empower her to fix this herself.”

So on and so forth.  While this wasn’t the complete truth of what happened, this is a way to honestly spin a sticky situation to sell myself in a job interview.

 

If your wife or girlfriend asks, “Do I look fat in this dress?”  Tell her, “Your hair looks so good I don’t even know!”  Or “I think that dress is a great color.”  “You could wear anything well.”  “I was blinded by your beauty.”

 

I know what you’re thinking, “Honest Abe got away with his unabashed honesty; what about him?”

 

Honest Abe was the freaking President of the United States; he could get away with it.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPX2cQP8uoI

Honestly

Honestly, I’ve figured out that when I’m not being honest with myself or with other people, there’s something wrong.

It might not be something huge and glaring, like a hidden affair or a concealed scar from an awful experience, but if I’m hiding it, there’s a reason why.

And it’s probably not for my own good or the good of others.

Recently, when I discovered that someone close to me was hiding something from me, it made me think back to all the times I’ve hidden things from other people. What was my motive? What was I getting out of doing that? Why was the benefit worth the risk and/or harm it caused others?

Every time I’ve hidden something, there’s been a reason. If I’m hiding something from someone I love, it’s normally because a) I’m benefiting from the very thing I’m hiding enough that I’m not willing to disclose it or give it up for fear of losing it, or b) I simply just am not unselfish enough to put others’ feelings and needs in front of my own desires in that moment. Sometimes it’s more complicated than that, but most of the time, it boils down to fear and selfishness.

Let me tell you from experience–hiding the truth has always hurt me. Whether it was ever uncovered or disclosed is irrelevant; I still suffered the consequences of lying to myself, not being an honest, trustworthy person, and feeling coated with a layer of guilt and shame. Thankfully, through forgiveness and learning how to live an open, honest life, I’ve learned how to avoid those terrible consequences by being honest and truthful to begin with.

If I have to hide it, maybe I just shouldn’t do it.