Being honest is a learned behavior.
How it begins:
It’s a natural instinct to be untruthful. It starts when we are young, we make a mistake, break something, go against our parents’ rules and then we lie about it. We don’t want to be punished or end up losing our privileges so we learn how to get away with our wrongs by covering them up with lies. Eventually our subconscious mind ties honesty to penalty. In our adult years, we continue to carry on this behavior when we deal with our friends, family, colleagues, employers and customers. We tell people what they want to hear even though we know we should tell the truth. We disguise lies as “keeping the peace” or trying not to hurt someone’s feelings. We tend to conveniently blur the lines between being positive and being dishonest.
The older we get we have more at risk; such as security stability, social status and livelihood. These are the things we fight to protect. The greater the loss, the greater the lie; we begin to convince ourselves one cover up after the next is a justifiable sacrifice to remain comfortable. Eventually lying becomes an excusable behavior; after all we are only protecting that which we consider valuable right? To guard our future, we make this “sacrifice” as a resolve to error, failing to realize dishonesty is actually a hindrance from progression. It is a temporary fix and when carried on it multiplies, eventually interfering with our would-be promising futures.
A lie will eventually catch up with the initiator.
You see, once a liar feels like they are getting away with such behavior, it becomes a game or often second-nature, so much so that they forget about the repercussions and begin to feel comfortable with the risk of being caught. In business, no such risk is a smart decision. Even if a business is flourishing now, built on a foundation of lies it will eventually come crumbling down. Look at companies like Enron, or deceivers like Madoff. The bigger you are, the harder you fall. The more money you make, the greater risk there is. Keep it honest and you’ll never have to look over your shoulder worrying about when you’ll get caught.
Just as we develop a behavior to be dishonest, we can also develop a behavior to be honest.
We can learn to be honest just as we learn anything else, through practice. The key is to challenge ourselves to become more and more honest in our reactions to others and really think about our responses before we open our mouths. Granted, this is much easier said than done, but it is something we can work towards each day. Eventually, it will become a way of life and you’ll find being honest is much more rewarding long term vs. the temporary satisfaction dishonesty provides.
Have you read part 1?
Mary V. Davids is Principal Consultant at D&M Consulting Services, LLC., and creator of the Honest Model™. Mary has over a decade of experience in cultivating employee engagement, enhancing workplace performance, career coaching, leadership coaching and training & development. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management and a Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management. Mary also serves as Secretary on the Board of Directors for the South Florida Chapter of the National Association of African American’s in Human Resources. To connect with Mary, you can follow her on twitter @MVDavids or you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org