How to be honest: A guide to build trust, be truthful and show honesty

Have you ever had someone close to you who turned out not to be who they said they were? Maybe you found out that your friend wasn’t actually a “friend,” or your relationship partner was cheating on you. Did it hurt? Did it feel like a betrayal?

When we interact with others, honesty is one of the most important characteristics. People want to know and trust that what they are hearing is true.

They want to believe in those around them and to know that those people are looking out for their best interests.

Because when the truth comes out in any other way than through direct honesty, it can be disheartening, devastating, and even heartbreaking at times.

And that’s why we have no choice but to strive for honesty in our daily life interactions. In this complete guide, let’s discuss how to be honest in life on all occasions?

What is honesty?

what-is-honesty

Definition of honesty: Honesty is characterized as the quality of being honest, straightforward, and frank in conduct and speech. An honest individual is viewed as a genuine individual and a man of his or her words.

The term honesty may likewise allude to an idea of honesty where reality wins over any deceitful or false activity.

Truthfulness implies “truly stating what one feels or thinks” and in like manner “denoting or portraying reality”.

It could imply that somebody does not tell lies yet it additionally has more profound importance than that for example when you are sincere about what you feel inside you are being honest.

An honest individual will state things as they really seem to be without embellishing them with falsehoods.

A genuinely fair person won’t reveal to individuals what they need to hear just on the grounds that they’ll like it better.

Rather, he/she will reveal to them the way things truly are regardless of whether it may cause them to hurt or misery altogether not to stray off course from genuineness which can be thought about as a characterizing element in living honestly.

Why is it important to be honest?

Why is it important to be honest? Honesty is the best policy. If you’re honest, you will always know what to say and do. There’ll be no need to remember your lies or cover up your mistakes.

Honesty also results in mutual respect. Since people can depend on you, they will treat you with respect. Being honest means that people will trust you and give their confidence in all that you do.

As a result, you’ll have a good reputation and peace of mind, knowing that people value your word and appreciate your good deeds. Most importantly, honesty results in better relationships as others are drawn to those who are truthful.

What makes a person honest?

A person is honest when he/she makes a commitment to be truthful and upholds that commitment.

This is especially important in relationships with others, as trust is one of the foundations of any friendship or romantic relationship.

To be consistent in your honesty, you may need to do some work on yourself and learn to express your thoughts honestly, even when it’s difficult.

Remember that honesty is not always about saying everything you think; it’s also about having the courage to say what needs to be said.

What are the qualities of an honest person?

As earlier mentioned the single most attribute of an honest person is being true to oneself. However, there are other qualities that co-exist with truth and make a person honest as a whole.

Let’s briefly understand those qualities with their definitions.

Qualities of honest person:

Integrity: Integrity is the quality of possessing strong moral beliefs, ethical principles, and values. An honest person has integrity, which means that his or her actions are in line with what he or she believes and feels is important in life (as opposed to being hypocritical).

A person with integrity is always consistent in his qualities of actions and aligns them accurately with his words of truth.

Truthfulness: Honesty means telling the truth — all the time. The truth may not always be pleasant, but it is always better than telling a lie. Truthfulness is the fact of being real and making statements that are true in nature.

Sincerity: Sincerity is the quality or virtue of being genuine to one’s own thoughts, feelings, desires, and beliefs. A person with sincerity acts in accordance with his virtues that show honesty in his message.

Straightforwardness: Straightforwardness is the quality of being direct in a practical sense. Which may be sometimes acted without concerning emotions or feelings but purely acts upon pure logic.

Trustworthy: Trustworthy is the quality of being reliable. Honesty means being trustworthy and dependable. If someone is honest, it means that you can trust him or her to do what he or she says is going to be done.

A man with trustworthy is consistent with his behavior in every event and responsible for what he leads.

Fairness: Being fair is the quality of showing equal treatment to anyone irrespective of one’s status. A person with fairness possesses a good judgment in all aspects of life.

Loyal: Loyalty is the quality of being loyal. A loyal person shows faithfulness to people whom he trusts completely.

Altruism: Being altruistic is the quality of being selfless. A person with altruism possesses good intentions and cares for other human beings or animals selflessly irrespective of any connection or attachment with them.

Bravery: Bravery is the quality of representing righteousness. A brave man always stands up for what is right or morally good even if it seems risky.

Right action: The honest person chooses to do the right thing over the easy thing when faced with a choice between them (as opposed to an amoral person who doesn’t care which they choose).

How to be honest?

how-to-be-honest

“The truth isn’t always beauty, but the hunger for it is,” according to acclaimed author Nadine Gordimer. It’s a sentiment shared by people from all walks of life, from philosophers to CEOs and nearly everyone in between.

The desire for honesty is something that unites us all, but learning how to be honest can be tricky. Here are a few tips:

  • Look at your life through a microscope if you have one handy—or even if you don’t. What interests or habits do you possess that others might not know about? Sharing these intimate details can lead to more open and honest communication with those around you.
  • Be aware of the things that aren’t true about you (like believing yourself destined for greatness because of your birth date), then examine them closely so you’ll know what they really mean when they come up in conversation.
  • Don’t try too hard. “Trying” comes off as inauthentic and dishonest; instead, let whatever comes naturally without being self-conscious about it coming across as fake or forced honesty–that’s where the magic happens.

How to be honest with yourself?

how-to-be-honest-with-yourself

The first step towards being honest is, to be honest with yourself. To be honest with others, you will first need to be honest with yourself.

Learning how to say no is the single most important lesson we need to learn if we want to become more honest.

It’s an extremely important skill that can help you avoid many unpleasant situations which arise from not saying what you feel or think when you should have said it.

While this may sound easy enough on paper, it can be quite challenging in real life and it takes practice.

The best way to practice is by observing yourself, noticing when something happens where you wish you had said no, and then trying to do things differently the next time a similar situation arises.

You might fail at times, but that doesn’t matter – keep practicing, and eventually saying no will become easier and easier.

Questions to ask yourself in order, to be honest with yourself:

Is honesty important to me?

What is my motive behind being dishonest?

What do I stand to gain by being dishonest?

Am I hurting anyone by being dishonest?

Is there any other way out of the situation besides lying or being dishonest?

You will find that by answering these questions and truly analyzing the results, you will start becoming more honest in your life.

How to be honest in a relationship?

If you want to make your relationship work, follow these tips:

1. Don’t hide what you feel. It’s not fair for you and your partner if you don’t say what you feel. If it hurts you, tell your partner about it. You should show that person why it hurts so much and why it is important for you.

Write down some key points beforehand and talk them through with your significant other. They will appreciate your honesty towards them.

2. Don’t lie about the things that matter. You shouldn’t lie about the things that really matter as they are related to trust between two people in a romantic relationship.

If you lied about something like this before, admit your mistake and explain why it was necessary (if there was such necessity). Try to avoid these situations in the future to ensure better communication with each other.*

3. Don’t compromise on trust issues. If there is a problem with trust between two people, then try everything possible to resolve it right away instead of going on as if nothing has happened at all.

4. Communicate regularly with each other and discuss various problems of relationships together to find good solutions quickly.

Importance of honesty in a relationship

Studies show that honesty and truthfulness in a relationship improve the bond of trust between two people.

  • It develops a positive attitude towards each other and life.
  • You feel comfortable expressing yourself freely with your partner, without any fear of their reaction.
  • You don’t need to hide things or keep secrets from your partner as they can be trusted easily.
  • Honesty builds stronger relationship bonds, which helps in speaking the truth, without fear of losing your partner.

How to be honest about your feelings with someone or with your partner?

Try to tell a person you are talking to about your feelings. Don’t be afraid of other people’s opinions. Ask yourself: “Why do I want to say it?” and “Is it really important for me to talk about it now?” If you can leave this particular situation and come back later, then do so.

Find out how the other person feels about what you feel because maybe they have the same thoughts. Talk to them directly, not through another person or message on social media, etc.

If the conversation is too difficult at first, write down what’s bothering you and read it out loud again as many times as necessary until you’re confident that you can speak confidently without shaking or stuttering.

Tell your partner how to be honest with them in your relationship: Don’t lie because lying never ends well; instead, tell the truth even if it hurts at first but will help later on when all is said done!

Here are some tips to be honest about your feelings:

  • Be Sure About What Exactly You Want to Talk About.
  • Be Sure When and Where to Do It.
  • Choose the Right Time and Place.
  • Speak from Your Heart, Not from Your Ego.
  • Avoid Accusations or Expectations in Your Speech.
  • Clarify your goal.
  • Express yourself clearly.
  • Conduct a self-check.
  • Stay calm and open.

Signs of dishonesty in a relationship

Some characteristics of toxic behaviors and signs show a person dishonest in life at many levels. A few lists of signs of dishonesty in a relationship are:

Lies: They become good at lying, with practice, they become professional liars. You won’t even see any signs and blindly trust their articulate words and expressions.

Offensive: They have a very unhealthy mindset, they get offended each time, even though they are wrong.

Disinterested: There are many causes that make a person lose interest in you. However, a loyal person would never do that. If a person loses interest or gets bored with you then it is an absolute sign of dishonesty and cheap character.

Cheating: There is no other act that is more terrible than cheating in a relationship. Often, it is unforgivable. It’s definitely a sign of dishonesty and lack of integrity.

Manipulates: They mislead the information by persuading you and manipulating you by being nice to get what they want. They make you blindly believe them.

Over controlling: If your partner dominates you in everything, controls you, and decides what you should do and should not, then these signs are purely toxic and dishonesty.

Doubt: A person who has self-issues also have problems with everyone and everything else. They have a lack of self-awareness that creates doubt in themselves as well as in others.

Abusive: When anything gets done against their plan, instead of responding they use their power to abuse you physically or psychologically.

Two-faced: They change their words, acts and behaviors only to support themselves, without caring for others.

Dealing with dishonesty in a relationship

In a relationship, it’s important, to be honest. There are always two sides to every story.

If you find your partner being dishonest, then you can try to change yourself and see how it goes from his or her point of view.

If he or she is really being dishonest then the best thing you can do is to leave him or her since dishonesty hurts both parties’ feelings and makes them feel miserable.

How to show honesty at home?

There are several things you can try to stay honest at home:

1. Always tell the truth when you make commitments. If you’re in a relationship with someone and you say, “I’ll be home at 6pm tonight so we can go out for dinner,” be sure to arrive at that time.

Not only is it dishonest to tell your partner that you’ll come home at a certain time and then show up late, but it’s also selfish. You’re making decisions about how to spend your time without considering how those decisions will impact others.

2. Make promises carefully and don’t commit yourself if you know there’s a good chance that you won’t be able to keep them.

If your boss asks for extra hours one night, or if your partner suggests that the two of you take on a new project together, think about whether or not it will realistically fit into your schedule before saying yes.

If not, let them know as early as possible so they can find someone else who is available.

3. Don’t mislead people by telling half-truths or withholding important details (also called “white lies”). For example, imagine that one of your friends is wearing an outfit and asks if they look nice in it.

Instead of saying “no!” (which might hurt their feelings), avoid answering the question directly by saying something like “that’s certainly different!”

However, consider being completely honest when asked direct questions like this because white lies can add up over time and cause complications in relationships later on when people start feeling lied to and betrayed by each other.

Related: How to express love: 30 ways to show love in 5 love languages.

How to be honest at work?

In order to be honest at work,

  • Start by being honest with yourself given the circumstances, and ask yourself what you should do.
  • Explain your point of view honestly in a meeting.
  • Don’t overstep your boundaries if you are subordinate or are new to the organization. If a senior person asks you something that makes you uncomfortable, frame your response in terms of what is reasonable for you to do or not do.
  • Be fair in all dealings, including with your colleagues and subordinates.

Here are some tips to be honest at work:

Clear expectations. If you’re going, to be honest at work, then be clear about your expectations.

Do you want to try and rise through the ranks, or would you rather maintain your current level of responsibility?

Do you want a raise or a more prestigious title? Use these clear expectations as guidelines when you’re going, to be honest at work.

Be upfront. When you honestly discuss a situation at work, you should avoid being vague. Instead, you should make your expectations known. If you’re asked to do something you’re not qualified or unwilling to do, then say so. Come up with a solution.

Be willing to apologize. Sometimes, being honest can be messy. There will be times when you mess up or do something you don’t mean to. When this happens, be quick to apologize. Admit that you did something wrong, and offer to fix it.

Be willing to explain. Sometimes, being honest at work means explaining yourself. Explaining your actions, your motives, or even your thought process can be uncomfortable, but it’s a part of being honest at work.

Change your behavior. Sometimes, being honest at work means changing your behavior. and try not to blame others if your work is not on time.

Importance of honesty in the workplace

In the workplace, honesty is much more important than people realize. Honesty may not seem like something that affects a company’s success or failure, but it makes a huge difference in the way employees feel about their jobs and how they work.

  • Happy Employees

Honesty creates a bond of trust between managers and employees.

When employees know they’re working with people who are honest with them, they take their jobs more seriously because they know there is no chance of being lied to or cheated out of what they deserve.

This leads to happier employees who care more about the company.

  • Clean Work Environment

A dishonest employee can make a great deal of trouble for an entire company by hiding information from customers or making false promises to clients.

This creates problems for everyone as clients become frustrated and stop doing business with the company and other companies lose respect for it.

It also creates problems when others must come in to fix these mistakes after the fact, taking time away from other tasks that need attention.

How to be honest with your friends?

Make sure you know your friends. You don’t want to hurt their feelings by telling them what you really think about them.

With your friends, you can be honest about things that are important for your friendship, like if they’re dating somebody who is cheating on them (without telling them you know this person is cheating – that way, they’ll respect you more).

If there is something bothering one of your friends and they ask for advice, give it freely and honestly as long as it’s constructive criticism or helpful information; otherwise, just tell them what they want to hear so they won’t feel bad about themselves.

When someone asks how his/her cooking tastes, say “it’s good” even though it isn’t any better than other food he/she cooks because everyone likes compliments, and hearing positive things about themselves makes people happy.

Here are some tips to be honest with your friends:

Be specific. Before you can confront a friend about something, you need to identify what it is you’re upset about.

Are you angry that your friend didn’t make plans with you? Or that your friend lets you down? Being specific about your feelings can help you figure out how to approach the problem.

Be kind and forgiving. If your friend isn’t being entirely honest with you, it’s natural to feel upset. But venting your anger at your friend isn’t the solution. You’re better off being considerate and kind because being angry will only make the situation worse.

Be calm. When you’re upset, it’s hard to stay calm and collected. Emotions tend to run wild when you’re upset.

So, try your best to keep a level head. Being calm and collected will help you think more clearly, which will help you figure out what to do about the situation.

Be direct. If your friend isn’t being completely honest with you, you need to point it out. You can’t expect your friend to change if they’re never confronted with what they’re not doing.

So, be direct. Tell your friend what you suspect and why, and ask for help getting to the bottom of it.

Why is honesty important in friendship?

Honesty is an important quality to cultivate in all of your relationships, but it’s especially crucial in friendships. With friends, you’re able to be more yourself than with anyone else.

Being completely honest with someone means that they can also be completely open with you—which makes for a close friendship.

Being able to trust your friend and know they’ll be upfront and truthful gives you a safe place where you don’t have to worry about the emotional equivalent of walking through a minefield: you don’t have to guess what will happen or what they’ll say next.

How to be honest in life all the time?

To be honest in life, you must first learn how to be honest with yourself. Tell yourself the truth about your feelings and thoughts.

As we all know, telling the truth isn’t always easy. It feels better to hide things from ourselves and others. But when you’re dealing with people who value honesty, they’ll appreciate your truthfulness.

Ways to be honest

List of tips and ways to be honest in life, in relationships, at work, and in every situation:

Be candid. Honesty starts with being candid. You should tell people when you’re unsure about something and be open to their feedback.

Be direct. Being direct is the quickest and easiest way to be candid. Be straightforward with your colleagues and clients. There’s no need for sugarcoating.

Be Truthful. Truth starts at the top, and it starts with you. If you’re truthful, you will be trustworthy. Then it’s easier for you to be candid and honest with the people you work with every day.

Be consistent. If you’re honest, you need to follow through with what you say. Your word should be your bond.

Be transparent. Being transparent means being open and honest about your company’s business. There’s no need to keep secrets.

Be real. Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses. If you’re honest, people will trust you.

Do what you say and prove it with your results.

Be responsible for your words, and actions, yourself, and for the people around you.

No matter how hard it is, always speak the truth.

Be committed to your goals and show sincerity in your work.

Be an inspiration for others to accomplish their goals.

Develop empathy, care for people, and help genuinely who are in need of you.

Do not seek attention, do not try to impress others,

Be yourself as authentically and truthfully as you can. So, that you attract others who have similar values.

Be straightforward in a humble way such that people understand what you are trying to convey to help them.

Always strive to improve yourself without comparing yourself to others. Just focus only on your growth and ambitions.

Benefits of honesty

There are more benefits to being honest than disadvantages. Here is the list of benefits of honesty you should know to get benefited from their applications:

  1. Honesty empowers an individual.
  2. Honesty makes you physically attractive,
  3. Your honesty makes others emotionally trust you.
  4. Your honesty make you look spiritually brave and courageous.
  5. Honesty shows that you care about people. So they fall in love with you for being humane
  6. Honesty creates a great bond and increases your circle of great people who have similar values in life.
  7. Honesty eliminates trauma and other nuisance drama in your life
  8. Honesty develops a great sense of self-awareness, satisfaction, and fulfillment.
  9. You know when you are honest and when you are not. Being honest all the time make you realize that you feel inner peace and accomplishment.
  10. Being honest is to be a good human. To be a good human is all that everyone strives for.
  11. Your honesty makes others to feel accepted and understood. That’s a great sign of maturity and good human.
  12. Honesty creates a great life.
  13. Honest eliminates mental health issues like depression, anxiety and fear of uncertainty.
  14. Being an honest person is a quality that earns you respect. It shows others that you are trustworthy and that you are not afraid to be yourself. You show others that you can be counted on to be reliable, dependable, and loyal.

Consequences of being honest

The issue is that, if you are really too honest that may turn out to be bad for you. Along with benefits, there are also consequences of being honest. Here is the list of disadvantages that you need to face for being honest:

  1. People consider your honesty as a show-off.
  2. If you are too honest, people take advantages of your weaknesses.
  3. If you are too honest, your close relationships step back to share any confidential information or secrets.
  4. There are times your too honest opinion may be perceived as silly and make fun of you.
  5. You need to realize that people always require your advice and honesty. That may defend you even if you have a good intention to help them.
  6. Your too honesty and straightforwardness sometimes hurts others very deeply. you need to know when to be quiet and when to help.
  7. People really feel to think twice or thrice in order to spend time with you or be around you.
  8. Your perfectionism and righteousness make others feel inferior. They feel that you are dominating and misleading even you are true with your actions.
how-to-build-trust

How to be truthful?

  • Understand the importance of truth.
  • Knowing why being truthful is important will help you be more truthful.
  • Try to think about what society would be like if everyone lied all of the time.
  • It would be really hard to trust anything anyone says, which could lead to a lot of problems.
  • Ask yourself what is truth? And what is not the truth?
  • Understanding the concept of truth is necessary to understand how to be truthful.
  • Truth means everything that you say, do, and feel in your life should be true for you.
  • In other words, never lie or deceive others if you want to become a truthful person.
  • Learn to live by your words.

The best way to understand the importance of something is to try it out for yourself.

A good way to start is by making a list in your journal or notebook (or on your phone) of all the little white lies you tell in one day.

Once you’ve done that, spend some time reflecting on whether these lies were worth telling and how they made you feel.

How to build trust?

As a human being, trust is a key component of who you are and how you live your life. So, how do we build that trust?

Trust is fostered by open and honest communication. We must be upfront about our intentions and desires in order to build long-lasting relationships with others.

Trust comes from having shared experiences with someone or something that shows they can rely on over time.

The more time spent together, the stronger this bond becomes as both sides contribute to its growth and care for it properly.

Trust is an ongoing process between two parties who genuinely want each other’s best interests at heart – not just in word, but also in action: showing up when needed most;

Keeping promises made regardless of circumstances;

Making sacrifices for one another without expecting anything back;

Putting their needs ahead of our own self-interests so that they feel supported no matter what happens!

Signs of deceitful person

The reality is we never know what the truth is. However, their body language, tone of voice and reveal some signs that can clue to recognize if someone is trustworthy or not.

  • Their words and actions do not align with the truth.
  • They try to manipulate you to get whatever they want from you. (Not every time) But, in your gut, you will come to know when someone is lying or not. Pay attention to your intuition, to gain clarity.
  • There is an inconsistency in their behavior and change their words often to make them feel right.
  • Behind your back, they spread fault information about you.
  • They have a toxic and unhealthy mindset.
  • They often torture you and make a drama out of each little wrong thing you do.
  • They are always open to conflicts and fights.
  • They never share what really they are up to. (Hide things from you)
  • They do not trust you and often question your every act.
  • They have serious doubt issues and self-belief issues.

Tips on when you should not be too honest about your opinions.

1. When you are around toxic people, save your honesty with yourself.

2. Be aware to share your vulnerability and personal life incidents that may affect your relationships.

3. Avoid sharing the most intimidating stories of your past if it’s not appropriate.

4. When judging someone’s appearance, approving someone’s request, and breaking up with someone.

Share what they might feel better to move on rather than hurting them with the harsh truth. Some things are beyond one’s control, no one can do anything about it. So, be empathetic instead of acting rational nerd.

5. Whenever you are not in the mood to share any information, follow your intuition and keep your secrets to yourself. It’s always not necessary to be blunt and completely honest.

Final thoughts:

One must know who he is and who he is not in order to realize what to say and what to do; where to say and where to be quiet. All these skills require an extreme level of self-consciousness.

That being said, it’s crucial to remember as the old saying goes – “Honesty is the best policy” always and forever. However, one must not only know how to be honest but when to be honest in life.

Just be aware, in order to save a relationship sometimes, a white lie doesn’t harm anyone.

Related:  A complete guide on How to motivate yourself in every situation

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Naveen Bommakanti

Naveen is Experienced Psychology and philosophy Writer, self-help and relationship Coach and thought influencer. He has 7 years of experience in Personal development industry.

Naveen’s expertise as a self-help and relationship Coach has been highlighted through his articles in medium and substack to name a few.

To be updated with Naveen's work, connect with him by following his social media accounts.

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