Follow up: Is the truth worth telling?

In a previous post I asked the question “Is the truth worth telling?”  I even added a poll to see where people stood on the issue.  After becoming my most commented on post, I decided I should follow up with some of the more interesting nuggets.  Needless to say, I chose them, and therefore it is my opinion that they were the more interesting nuggets.

Interesting enough on their own, the results of the poll reinforced a lot of what I already felt myself.  However, the comments varied greatly.  I collected all of the comments that came in from the Linkedin and the blog.  To answer the question “Is the truth worth telling?” we had several short but sweet and often sarcastic answers such as:

  • usually not!
  • I am not sure if I should respond…
  • Well, that all depends on who you are, doesn’t it?
  • Yes, but best to be objective. Timing should be right and best to bring data.

The overarching theme of the responses involved differentiating between opinion and truth.  One of the more well thought out comments was:

Your questions are: “Is the truth worth telling?” and rephrased as “should we say everything we are thinking?” To address the first question; almost always ‘yes’. Being truthful builds trust and shows character whether with a client or family member. Deceit is seldom helpful in normal relations and would be hard to turn of and off – your words and more importantly, your actions ARE your character. Should you always say what you think – No, not always. This may seem contradictory, however, what I personally think may not support the goals and objectives of the business/family/plan/unit. Best to choose your words, because once spoken or written they cannot be easily retracted and may be misunderstood when spoken in haste. If your personal values do not align with those of your current company, job, etc., it is in everyone best interest to seek a position that does. Best to be honest, like it or not. My opinions…

Another good one along the same lines:

Great question. I discern a difference between ‘ the truth’ and ‘what I really think’. ‘What I really think’ is my perspective about something, and whether I give someone the ‘benefit’ of my perspective depends on what my ultimate objective is. For example if I want to promote a change in someone’s behavior I may either just tell them straight because I think that’s the best way of eliciting the change or on the other hand I might ask them questions about their behavior so I get them to figure it out for themselves. In the latter case I am keeping what I really think concealed to obtain my ultimate objective. How does this relate to ‘the truth’. I’m not sure there is such a thing as ‘the truth’ in this case. There’s ‘my’ truth and there is ‘your’ truth and they are likely to be different.  There is value in sharing your perspective with others in that it may help their perspective about a topic or issue. They may not agree with you, but in listening and ultimately refuting your perspective they will have learnt something.

There were also a lot of the expected comments that revolved around morals, values and ethics.  However, I have to go back to the point that we must differentiate between truth and opinion.  It appears to me through your answers and some self reflection that individuals usually are not hurt by the truth.  It is opinions of their family, friends and peers that are the most damaging.  Even if many people have the same opinion it does not make it a universal truth.  Therefore, it appears that although the truth may hurt, opinions are the most damaging.

Lesson learned:

As the “Common Sensei”, I guess I must take it upon myself to make a New Year’s resolution to learn from my not so scientific research study.  Therefore, I will try to keep my opinions to myself.  However, I am not perfect so be careful what you ask, I just may not be able to help but answer.

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