Friday, June 15, 2012

Honest, But Encouraging

They say that honesty is the best policy. I believe that to be true. Yet, part of the challenge of relationships is learning how to be honest with the other person, but do it in a way that doesn’t discourage. There are times when you might say something that seems to be honest, but can be hurtful. There is a great commercial that asks: Was honest Abe always honest? It then shows Abraham Lincoln’s wife asking him: “Abe, do I look fat in this dress?” Abe, hesitates, and says, “Well…” Then his wife gets mad at him.
In this case, it might have been better for him to have said something about the dress not being the best fit for her. Or maybe the dress didn’t flatter her figure as much as another dress might. This would be true, and yet not dwell on the issue of her being fat or not. Another thing he could have said was to point out some good features about the dress first (encouraging words), and then talk about the fact that there might be a dress that she would look even better in.
            Why is it that people have trouble being honest? It is usually because the truth will cause them trouble. Usually people are not honest when they have done something wrong, so they lie. But when the lie is found out, and often times it is, trust is destroyed. This is why we must seek to learn how to be honest.
            So let's get back to being honest, yet encouraging. Part of the ability to do this is to understand who the person is that you're talking to. Some people can take the truth straight out: "You don't look good in that dress." And yet, who am I to tell them this? They did ask my opinion, but I must remember it is only an opinion. I also have to remember that they are asking me because they want my input. So I must seek to give input that will truly help, not hurt.
            If you have ever had a situation where you sought to tell the truth, but the truth damaged your relationship, then you understand the need to be honest but encouraging. Think about what you are going to say first. How will it sound to the other person? Is the way you’re going to say it really the best way to say it? Can you shape your response with some encouraging words? I believe we must seek to be loving, even when we are honest. In this way we will be able to guide, instruct, encourage, and challenge with honesty. Blessings.