No one likes to receive bad news, even if it’s the truth.
Last week, I received bad news. And it made me reflect a lot on the common saying— honesty is the best policy.
Is it? Something is lacking in that principle.
You can tell someone they look fat in their jeans while looking at the mirror ridden with insecurities. You can tell someone that you fell out of love while they are still in love with you. You can tell someone that their habits annoy you while unaware that their habits have that effect.
In every situation, you can speak the truth recklessly, without any care for someone’s feelings. Just to put your thoughts on record.
I believe there is a better way.
Edith Eger, a Holocaust survivor, and psychologist wrote, “Conflict is human. When we avoid conflict, we’re actually moving closer to tyranny than to peace. Conflict itself isn’t imprisoning. What keeps us trapped is the rigid thinking we often use to manage conflict.”
When two people are honest, there are two roles at play— the deliverer and the receiver. Two people can exchange roles or stay in one.
The most crucial element here is applying compassion. As a deliverer, choose your words and timing wisely. Your delivery is everything.
As a receiver, listen intently. Being defensive, reactive, or emotional are not the answers to accepting the truth. Your undivided attention is everything.
Only when two people play their part will there be understanding and peace. So, perhaps, honesty is still the best policy, but only when applied with compassion.