Honesty

I consider myself a very honest person. One of the consequences of being honest, is that you also find yourself as labeled blunt. I once had a friend, who after sharing her bucket of woes and asking for my opinion, told me:

Anne, you’re too honest.

I was rocked back on my heels, I’ll admit. How can you be too honest? Shouldn’t everyone strive to tell the truth, to the best of their ability, all the time?

Well… that’s complicated.

Everyone views the world through their own perceptions, whether we’re talking about biological or cultural.. As much as we might make the effort, or recognize the disparity in our own perceptions and someone else’s, bridging the gap is a difficult and tension-fraught process which will never result in absolute consensus across the board. It’s one of the facts of the human condition.

When my friend told me I was too honest, I really thought about what honesty meant, for me personally, and as it affected others around me. I came to recognize (and still struggle with coming to grips) that what I consider honest is sometimes wrong. Honesty is only really valid in a contextual sense, and depends on a multitude of factors. While this hasn’t fundamentally changed my desire to be an honest person, it has somewhat tempered what I consider to be a direct result of being honest: my bluntness.

For one thing, I try to not give unsolicited advice or opinions. I figure if you come to my space (my blog!) then you’re asking for it! But if I’m in game and someone truly needs a tip on playing their character better, I’m not going to bother them unless they ask. I make my best effort to not be rude when I am being honest. Just because you’re thinking “poor, poor idiot,” doesn’t mean you have to say it.

And then there’s the honesty of sharing, of giving yourself to others, of letting them know who you are.

When I sit down to right a blog post, I write, and write, and write, then publish. If I ask someone to proofread, it’s to make sure that my ramblings make sense, because I don’t read my words again. I write, then publish. Sometimes it results in a bit of dissonance in my argument, typos and other things that I’m sure makes the grammatical minded among my readers clench their teeth. There’s a couple of reasons I write this way. The first is simply because that’s the role my blog plays in my writing time: it doesn’t have to be polished to provide the place I want to share my thoughts on the game. The other is because I want my freshest, cleanest perception to be preserved, not a crafted well-thought out analysis of an issue from all sides. I do enough of that in other writing that I do, that the option to just put my words down and let them fly is wonderfully liberating.

When I put something out, I want it to best reflect my initial reaction and thoughts on a topic. I figure the discussion will flesh out my own thoughts and bring different perspectives to the table. Sometimes, I make myself look like a giant flaming idiot. Others, I find that I’m really happy with how that initial thought turns out. However, as much as I’ve put this discussion in terms of my initial, most honest perspective on a topic, that doesn’t mean that I share everything.

I don’t feel compelled to share the intimate details of my entire gaming experience just because I have a blog. I don’t feel compelled to share things about my personal life, even though I’ve done so to some extent, because I can. I don’t feel like I’m sitting in the shadows, hiding myself from others, but rather, doing what I do in every situation: choosing what to share. Not sharing is not, in and of itself a dishonest act. If you choose to make assumptions about me, based on the information I have provided, you’re welcome to it. If somewhere down the line, you’re disabused of some long-standing belief you’ve held about me, that doesn’t make me dishonest. Asses and assumptions folks.

Writing is a medium, and people are going to tackle it differently. In many aspects of my life, I’m a perfectionist, never happy with the final result. I choose to abandon that here, but it doesn’t make what I write any less honest than if I spent the time that I would usually spend on a writing task.

As much as I personally would like to think that honesty is a cut and dried, in or out, right or wrong issue, it’s not. There’s a lot of layers, a lot of contextual considerations and assumptions that go into finding and discussing the truth.

This post was inspired by a post read from Stubborn at Sheep the Diamond.

5 thoughts on “Honesty

  1. I think there’s a lot to be said for honesty but there’s also a lot to be said for how you say it. I have 2 people I can think of (off the top of my head) who are very blunt and as a result, have hurt my feelings by something they’ve said.

    On the other hand, I’ve always been one who tries to be tactful in what I say especially because I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. I don’t feel I’m being dishonest by saying it in that way though. It’s just that I will say something in a less harsh way. It’s just how I am.

    This post reminds me of a quote I’ve had for a long time now.
    “Tact is the art of making a point without making an enemy.”
    –Howard W. Newton

  2. For me, like Cymre, it’s almost always the delivery, not the honestly. I have the opposite problem which I think stems from being an introvert. I will never give you an opinion, ever, without being asked. Okay, if I’m angry enough I will, but I’ll regret it.

    I feel bad about this as I think my silence sometimes leads people to believe I was in agreement with their point of view, which frequently I’m not. This can result in stunned horror when I answer honestly. Sometimes I wish I had just a touch more blunt.

  3. Hey Windsoar. A great read that reminded me so much of an old guildmate and friend of mine in WoW; he was a very black-and-white thinker, always strong on honesty no matter how harsh. he was also convinced it was absolute. I spent many ours talking to him about the difference of how to say things and why we say them, using many arguments you’ve presented here.
    the problem with in-your-face honest people like that is (and I speak from firsthand experience too although I have come a long way) they use the honesty card like a card blanche; as long as it’s their honesty, no matter how one-sided or ignorant on a subject, it must be valid. I tend to disagree strongly – honesty boils down to your opinion and like you said opinions og back to a multitude of things that shape our perception. and then there are in fact wrong opinions; uninformed opinions, immature opinions, bad opinions out there. I can’t stop someone from voicing his, but in no way do I have to respect it. big misconception.

    Another problem with loud honesty is that more often than not the person styling himself as moral institution, is in fact being honest for his own sake – not the other person’s sake that his blunt honesty is targeted at. and that for me is the all-relevant factor: if you TRULY mean well and want your honesty/opinion to matter or help, you do it in a way that the other person can accept and cope with. surely, a constructive outcome must be your main focus. therefore, use some empathy and consider the person before you and how best to reach them. if you don’t, your honesty is nothing – it’s not smart, it’s not brave, it’s just you doing something for yourself. Or as one much wiser than me once said:

    “Whenever you have truth it must be given with love, or the message and the messenger will be rejected.”

    This is a basic life truth for me and one that has helped me greatly in my professional career as a coach and teacher dealing with young people of countless backgrounds. I do not always succeed in my private life, but in general I wish that people took this more to heart. as for the internet, I tend to find most truth and honesty where people are the most quiet and therefore easily overheard. loud opinions usually go with big egos (“see ME, hear ME, I am important!). sorry for the WoT :)

  4. Another great subject and interesting review of one’s self, I often feel that majority of life’s largest problems have always been miscommunication. When communicating there are at minimum 2 parties involves. Who both have equal responsibility in the communication, during communication there are reversing roles the listener and the talker (for sake of this subject talking is the communication form).
    The listener has an equal stake in the communication to understand what is being brought to them. Most of the time as human nature takes over our mind interprets what is being projected to us or at us.
    The Talker has an equal stake in the communication by choosing the words, tones and tempo of the communication.
    During communication the roles go back and forth at least in healthy conversation.
    Majority of the time human nature gets in the way, emotions get in the way of the communication, and vocabulary can get in the way, many other influences.
    When in all honesty (pun intended) I have always had some simple rules about communication.
    1) Never make a decision or have an important conversation when emotional. Because when your emotional you are not logical you can’t be both.
    2) When you are compelled to answer one of “those” questions, never make it about the individual but about the subject. Do these pants make me look fat? I can see your diet is paying off, keep up the good work.
    3) When in doubt ask for a further definition. Seems simple but most of the time people are too busy in life’s actions or processing the communication.
    4) Opinions are like assholes I do not want anyone to see mine in public. Advice is always requested otherwise it’s an opinion.
    5) When dealing with a difficult communicator have another person present.
    6) Be careful what you ask for because you may get an answer you did not want.
    Honesty is very context defined, but if it feels wrong it usually is.
    By the way I prefer the more raw articles compared to over polished or over thought articles. Keep up the interesting topics, I enjoy your point of view keep up the good work.

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