128. Tell it like it is.

A conversation yesterday guided me towards introducing the habit we will be discussing for the next three weeks.

As I often do, I spent a few moments yesterday chatting briefly with a lady in my office who has been a colleague, friend and mentor for the past 15 years.

During that time we have run a business together – one in which we offered certification training for people who wished to become business coaches – and have frequently done work for the same clients. As we both had offices in the same building we felt that it made sense to move into a single location so in addition to the labels above we have also been office-mates for approximately seven years.

Dr. Patricia Pitsel is a psychologist who is my default go-to person when I need advice in dealing with a particular client or a challenging situation.

One of Pat’s most distinguishing features is her willingness to always be direct, even and often at the expense of not telling people what they want to hear but rather what she believes to be true.

For as long as I have known Pat she has been a committed practitioner of The Habit of Being Forthright. She has long held the philosophy of holding no punches in saying and being very direct in the way she addresses people.

There is no intention to be hurtful or mean-spirited instead there is an unshakable conviction that the truth must be told and regardless of how unpleasant that truth may be to the recipient, the short-term pain of the truth is always preferable to the long-term pain of delusion.

Pat will be the first to acknowledge that her truth may not be the truth.

She understands that, as we have discussed so often on this page, there are very a few facts in the world when compared to the vast array of opinions out there.

This means that Pat recognizes that her directness is merely an expression of her opinion – what she believes to be true – and that true friends, true counsellors, true professionals, always share their truth even when clearly it will not be received with welcoming, open arms.

The Habit of Being Forthright is one that is difficult for some to acquire as, in the quest to “never hurt anyone’s feelings”, we quite often sugar-coat what we believe to be true so as to tell others what they wish to hear.

I know what you’re thinking. How do you apply The Habit of Being Forthright to this question, “Do these jeans make my butt look fat?”

Naturally I asked Pat that very question knowing full well what her response would be. In her customary way of really helping others make sense of the world she said that if someone asks that question and you believe the answer is “yes” then the only answer to give is “yes.”

If your answer offends, too bad because if you are unwilling to hear the answer, then don’t ask the question.

Simple.

Not everyone is ready to adopt, or even be around, The Habit of Being Forthright but for those who are its powers are absolute.

Adhering to this habit also means that you forfeit your right to be hurt or offended when the questions you pose do not elicit the responses you desire.

Being adult is understanding and accepting that the truth, even when painful, always beats the alternative, although at the time it may not feel that way.

That does not give one license to blatantly criticize or look for fault, it simply means that we always say what we believe to be true and expect reciprocal treatment from others.

The Habit of Being Forthright clears our conscience for it enables us to say what we believe without having to ever walk on eggshells.

A really neat benefit of acquiring this habit is that in a very short period of time fewer and fewer people will be asking your opinion about frivolous matters.

And only good things can come from that.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

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