One of the things I’ve learned after years of trial and error in life and relationships, is that people who matter to you CAN HANDLE THE TRUTH. When I was younger I used to try and say or do the right thing based on what I believed was best in the situation. Not only was this particularly egocentric of me, I was unfortunately wrong.
This led me to create or omit information from the listener with the intent of improving the situation. An example would be not telling a jealous girlfriend about catching up with a platonic female friend for a coffee as I believed it would cause us unnecessary challenge. As I’m sure you can imagine, when these white lies backfired, I looked even more guilty and at the end of the day, honesty would have been the best policy.
When we fill people in on the details and we’re honest with them, one of two things tends to happen:
They can handle the truth, they appreciate our honesty and with appropriate communication, common ground can be found and the relationship is strengthened – even if the other person doesn’t like the truth they heard, at least they know where they stand.
Or they can’t handle the truth and if you’re honest with yourself, there are probably other indicators illustrating some fundamental challenges which really need to be worked out to ensure a fulfilling relationship with this person.
Remember, every lie has 2 parts – the lie we tell others and the one we tell ourselves to justify it. Put yourself on the receiving end of white lies and decide what you’d prefer.
“Better to get hurt by the truth than comforted with a lie.”
Action Step: Frame what you’re saying so you don’t have to lie
Next time you’re in a situation where you feel drawn to telling a white lie to protect someone’s feelings (either by creating a story or by omitting some important information), try the following:
Appreciate that you are being pulled in two directions to tell the truth or not and this illustrates that you are a person who cares.
Let the person know you have a challenge as you want to tell them something but you’re concerned they may be hurt by it. Ask them what they’d like you to do. In 99% of situations, they’ll ask to be told the truth.
In a caring way, communicate the information clearly and directly. Many of us lose our footing when we start to speak in these situations so it is important to tell the details and let them make up their own mind how they feel.
I cannot stress enough how much of a relief it is to have someone be honest with you in a relationship and how relieving it is for you telling the information. This is a fundamental building block for quality relationships and I assure you that even if there’s short term pain sometimes as a result, the long term gain is exponential.