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Honesty: Is It Always The BEST Policy?

Updated on May 1, 2011

Honesty as the best Policy?

In theory, yes. Honesty is the best policy. In practice, it's a lot easier said then done.

This is an age old ponderance, that reaches farther then just in business. It's something that effects every part of you and every person you interact with. So let's explore some of the complications with this question.

Let me ask you some questions...

If you saw a small woman who was 8 months pregnant with twins, would it be the best policy to tell her she looks big, swollen, fat and tired? Or would it be a better policy to tell her how well she is carrying those babies? Or how pretty she looks? A wrong answer could get you sucker punched in the gut.... lol

Lying is an interesting thing. It's actually very natural for human beings to lie and deceive. In many situations it becomes a survival skills. I find honesty can and should be used as often as possible, but lets be real, there are some situations where lying just isn't as bad as society makes it out to be. I mean, is it bad to tell our young children about Santa or the Tooth Fairy?

What about Halloween, is it right to dress up and be someone your not? How about telling kids that getting through school is the Only way to succeed?

You can't forget the stork tales... is it wrong to tell really young children that babies come from a stork?

What about when we tell older kids not to tell others that no adults are home (if anyone comes over or calls) when we have to leave them in the home for a little while?

What about when we tell our children that they have to go to school, when the reality is that they could be homeschoolled, home-tutored or self taught?

If you don't immediately admit that you farted in the elevator, isn't that wrongly deceiving people?

When a child scribbles a hideous picture for you, should you tell them that it's a horrible piece of work?

When you're in a bad mood and your spouse is annoying you (probably not on purpose)... Should you tell them you think they are a nasty jerk who needs to crawl in a whole and never come out? Or would it be wiser to suggest that you need some time to yourself?

If you found yourself in some crazy situation, like you were being held hostage and the monster wanted to know where you're family was hiding, would it be the best policy to be honest and tell them were your family was really hiding?

There are many questions that require answering, in order to answer just the one question "Is honesty always the best policy?" It encompasses so many areas of life, that you can never really give the question a definitive answer.

The question of honesty as a policy, comes up more often in the business world then anything else. It's a matter of ethics and virtues.

The only way to answer this question, is to decide for yourself...

Would you rather be Virtuous and Ethical?

Or would you rather be rich?

Being virtuous and ethical is a good way to run a small business. It can be successful, fulfilling and enriching. Though it will hardly ever get you up to the big dogs table. Just like with poker, in business you sometimes have to bluff, deceive and intimidate, in order to get ahead.

It is very rare when you will meet a current billionaire who says that honesty is always the best policy. In most cases, they will either laugh at you, or they will avoid the question.Though we can see, that those whom have become supremely rich, are also usually the greedy buggers who end up polluting the most, selling the most pharmaceuticals or corrupting the governments and markets.

I would personally rather have a small successful business that I can honestly and ethically run, then a large monopoly corp that had to step on heads to get where it got. What about you?

Honesty: Is it ALWAYS the best policy?

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Final thoughts...

Honesty is the best policy at least 96% of the time. Being honest and tell your friend that their new recipe tasted really bad, might make them feel a little hurt, but they will learn to improve on their cooking skills because you were honest. Tell your teen that not all drugs are bad and that experimenting is perfectly natural, but that you would prefer they wait until they were older so that they were better able to physically and mentally handle various situations, would earn you much more respect from your teen then just telling them they are wrong, bad and disobedient. If they trust you, they will respect you more and you will accomplish your goals much more effectively then punishing them and not being honest.

When you tell someone that you don't want to hire them because they were too anxious, not dressed appropriately, under qualified or unprofessional, is much better then just not calling them back after an interview. How are they supposed to grow if they don't know?

Telling your customers that your company is completely American when you have your products made overseas, can continue to bankrupt society and once people find out, you'll lose business. In this case, you're dishonesty can kill your business.

When you are honest with those around you, you are more likely to be honest with yourself as well. There is nothing worse in this world then lying to yourself.


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