In many ways, truth-telling has gotten me in trouble. In the end, as I look back, it ended up for the good of the person across from me. Truth-telling is not always easy. In many situations, it has the potential of hurting the hearer or creating separation.
In the age we live in we’ve made three major mistakes:
- We have made truth a matter of interpretation. In other words, the truth is in the eyes of the beholder
- We have allowed our emotions to overrun reason. It seems that reason has been permanently exiled
- We are motivated by our fears
I’m making a case for truth-telling because I know the benefits. If the people closest to me had shied away from it, I would be lost in my own delusions. Often we’re very good at deluding ourselves.
I want to be very clear that truth-telling is an art. It involves love, timing and a strong grasp of the situation underpinning the conversation. If the person delivering the truth is ill-equipped or oblivious to this, the truth will be a source of harm. As you can imagine, it’s vital to seek truth from those you trust.
The following are some truths I’ve had to communicate recently:
- “You’re smart and have a good heart. The mistake you made was allowing him to take advantage of your kindness.”
- “He won’t give up the drugs because he doesn’t want to. When he wants to be whole, he will make the decision to own his problems.”
- “I appreciate the desire to make things better. However, having more meetings to discuss what has been discussed to the point of nausea is a waste of everyone’s time.”
- “I’m so sorry. I know that had to hurt you deeply. What can I do to help you?”
- “No one owes you anything. You have been given the responsibility for your life. If you don’t like where you’re at, then begin the process of making a change.”
I haven’t perfected the art of truth-telling. I’m better at it than I was ten years ago, and I have a long way to go. It’s clear to me what happens if I fail to attempt truth-telling; I will fail myself and those who count on me.