130. When in doubt, let the truth out.

The past two weeks have taught me that The Habit of Being Forthright is more widespread than I had previously thought.

A typical blog posting will generate 10 to 15 calls each week and yet I have received more than 50 calls from readers in the past 14 days.

Overall, the vast majority of callers stated their firm belief in and support for The Habit of Being Forthright. I have heard numerous stories of how pursuing this habit, and staying true to oneself, has proven to be of tremendous long-term benefit notwithstanding that sometimes forthrightness will produce short-term ill feelings.

A few callers questioned whether The Habit of Being Forthright has any exceptions and a couple cited, by way of example, withholding unpleasant and bad medical diagnoses and prognoses from seriously ill people.

Interestingly, several callers were supportive of the no-exception to rule for The Habit of Being Forthright and felt it to be their obligation to impart and share the bad news but also that they have absolutely no right to withhold bad news regardless of how difficult or painful it would be to the recipient.

I think whether or not one should apply The Habit of Being Forthright to this type of example lends itself to philosophical debate and, as with so many things in life, there is no one right answer and one wrong answer.

There are a plethora of opinions predicated on what participants in the debate feel and believe to be true.

One repeated theme identified the need for people to refrain from asking questions if they may not like the answers.

More than one person explained to me that when we ask questions, i.e., “Do these jeans make me look fat?” we do so with the full expectation of being told the truth by the respondent, and yet quite often we become angry or disappointed when the “truth” they tell us is not the “truth” we wish to hear.

Several of these conversations reminded me of earlier postings in which we have discussed the merits of Transactional Analysis – a psychological theory of human interaction – which has told us that in each waking moment we are all operating from one of three “Ego States.”

We are either conducting ourselves as a Parent, an Adult or a Child and it is only while in the Adult Ego State that we can hope to receive unwanted truths to our questions and treat the responses as being nothing more than data.

Just pure information that we are free to either accept or reject.

In my day job as a coach I am constantly faced with the dilemma of telling my clients what I believe to be the truth and in so doing run the risk of angering or hurting them.

Or I can let them down as gently as comfortingly as possible.

I long ago learned that if I am to hold my head up high as a coach who believes in his ability to truly help others then utilizing The Habit of Being Forthright can never be optional.

When faced with a difficult choice if I choose to not tell my client the truth as I believe it to be then I must sadly acknowledge to myself that I have failed my client.

I would be guilty preventing short-term pain at the expense of long-term gain.

When we are trying to make important changes we often delude ourselves into “falling off the wagon” by rationalizing why it is okay to do what we know we shouldn’t be doing or why it is okay to not do what we know we should be doing.

My job as a coach is always to point out the truth.

The Habit of Being Forthright is not always easy to uphold but the rewards for doing so far outweigh any real or imagined cost.

And it is for that reason that I encourage each and every one to embrace The Habit of Being Forthright into every facet of your life.

You won’t be sorry.

And that’s the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

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