This month, we’ll be looking at a series of articles on honesty between you and various people in your lives. We’ll look at the trials, grey areas, potential pitfalls and challenges that go with each type of relationship interaction. This week, we’ll look at how honesty impacts your relationships with your friends and co-workers.
Having a friend, even your closest friend, approach you with a situation that requires your honest opinion or view can be a tricky one, depending on the subject matter. If it’s something that is as simple as, “Do you think I should wear this trendy, yet ironic, t-shirt to work for casual Friday?” is easy enough to give an honest and sometimes blunt answer. Your answer and the method you engage in order to provide a truthful answer may very well be why the two of you are friends to begin with. Being brutally honest, however, can cause more drama or turmoil than either of you may be prepared for at that time.
It’s not okay to lie to friends, but being honest through gentle guidance and suggestions may be the better avenue to take. Always consider the level of emotional investment into the situation your friend may have before laying down some heavy advice unless it’s absolutely required. If it’s a life-changing or emotionally charged situation, it’s best to let them talk things out for themselves while you be the supportive shoulder for them to lean on and an ear to listen. Not every problem requires your honest opinion or view, but it does require you to be a loyal and devoted friend.
The old adage of “honesty is the best policy” is a generally great motto to follow, even at work. However, there are still certain sensibilities to contend with even in this day and age and even more so when it comes to dealing with co-workers. Generally, you’re surrounded by a highly diverse group of people in the workplace, where certain subjects shouldn’t be addressed within the confines of a business day.
If you happen to land yourself in the middle of a conversation between yourself and another co-worker that turns to a subject such as politics, religion, your boss or another co-worker, you’re finding yourself in the middle of a mine field. Yes, I’m sure you have a strong opinion on each of those subjects, but your honest viewpoint in this type of situation is best left alone in your own head. Politely excuse yourself and walk away as quickly as possible in order to avoid a tense environment at work with that co-worker or others. Remember that if you’re talking with an “office gossip” about someone else, that same person is likely to talk about you to others, as well. Just avoid this kind of situation at all costs.
When it comes to giving honest opinions at work regarding actual business decisions, your voice should be heard but without throwing anyone else under the bus. Find a way to phrase your ideas or opinions without pointing fingers or demeaning other ideas or opinions. Taking this tactic allows you to stand by your opinions with integrity and may even allow an open door for compromise and further teamwork.
Keep being honest, as this is a sign post of a good person. However, temper your honesty with compassion, understanding and consideration for the person, situation and environment. Weigh whether your advice or opinion is worth opening a can of worms for the sake of stirring up potential trouble, or if it’s time to really lay all the cards on the table.
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