Honesty Policy

I grew up in a house that was painfully honest.  If something that I was wearing didn’t look right, my mom would tell me.  If she did not like one of my friends she remind me and if someone didn’t like me, she told me not to care.  It was blunt, it was harsh but it was always honest regardless of feelings.

Due to this straightforward upbringing, my quick reaction and sharp tongue has been the cause for many conflicts in my life and I realize that although people will tell me they want the honest answer, I have to accept that they seldom do.  I assume that when people tell me to be frank, they are prepared for both the good and the bad but if this isn't the case, feelings are hurt and relationships are strained.  DO NOT BE TRICKED!  PEOPLE SAY THEY WANT THE TRUTH BUT THEY DON’T ALWAYS MEAN IT.  

Being a new mom has inspired deep reflection on this parenting style and truthful way to communicate but I wonder, when it comes to advice, is honesty always the best policy?  Also, how do you know if your sincere opinion is desired or if a sugarcoated nicety is in order?  The difference lies in the amount of time it takes to change the subject at hand.

People want to know they truth about things that can easily be changed.  Pants, traffic lanes, profile pictures, menu choices, diets and furniture placement are among some of the things that you can be brutally honest about.  Try it out.  When asked, let your friend know they should move their fiddle leaf fig or wear different shoes with those sailor pants and I guarantee they will be grateful for your advice.  No hard feelings either way, there is not a lot of emotional attachment to these issues and both can be changed quickly.

On the other hand, do not offer your honest words when it comes to things that cannot be easily changed such as relationships, pant size, work position, family dynamics, bad investments, bad cooking, clothing that cannot be immediately changed (if you are already at an event, save the critique for a later date), the behavior of their children (NEVER BE HONEST ABOUT THIS AND THEY WILL ASK BUT TRUST ME, IT’S A TRAP) and finally professional endeavors.  This is really hard because sometimes you're just itching to get out that opinion because you know it will change the recipients perspective but it doesn't matter how kind you are in your delivery, these subjects are emotional and hard to change so if you refrain, you'll be happier in the end.

This is a quick guide and there are always exceptions but if you apply this rule, you will save yourself some painfully honest exchanges this holiday season.  If you do have people in your life that you can be honest with despite the subject permanence, hooray, it's a huge blessing.  Also remember that this rule is only applicable if someone asks for your opinion.  I cannot guarantee that unsolicited advice will be well received regardless of the subject.

Cheers to tons of loving, caring but hopefully honest communication this holiday season.