We talk about honesty as if it's one thing. Sometimes it really means how you are feeling, truthfully, and sometimes it means calling someone out on something they did that was wrong.
Honesty can mean being blatant and downright rude, or it can mean sharing your perspective gently and with great sincerity.
So how honest are you? Do you tell people when you try to flush the public toilet and it doesn't go down all the way? Or do you just leave when the coast is clear and never look back? Do you bump into a car in the parking lot and say "oops!" and drive off - or do you park and check to see if there's any damage, leaving a note with all your pertinent information if there is?
Honesty is slippery, tricky stuff. You can be honest all you like inside your own mind, but if you are too honest at work, you could be fired. OR if you aren't honest enough, you could be fired for THAT.
If you are too honest in your relationship, you could alienate your partner for life. Or if you are not quite as honest as you should be, you could lose their trust completely.
Let's say you don't want to tell your boss that she's grossly overrated in her field and that her air of superiority makes everyone around her feel drained and angry. That's too much honesty! But if she asks you if you were the last one to use the copier and it is now broken, then, yes, yes by all means, you should be honest about that. You should come clean.
What a fine line it is. I believe in honesty but I know diplomacy matters more. For example, when someone asks you if they look bad, you should never, under any circumstances, say yes, whether or not it's true. It's just mean. They don't want to know. However, if they smell bad, you really should tell them because you're doing them a favor in other social situations.
How can we assess the appropriate amount of honesty for any given situation?
I can't lie, I am still trying to figure it out myself.
Aimee Boyle writes regularly for EmpowHer