The moral imperative to always tell the truth can sometimes get you in a situation where you are stuck between a rock and a hard place. You want to be honest but the consequences of your true words will possibly leave you regretting, cause damage, or hurt someone.
On the other side, if you tell a lie, your dishonest words will possibly save a life, buy you time to do something very important, or eliminate a situation that could lead to great damage but live you guilty for lying.
What do you do? Tell the truth to be free from the guilt of lying but causing damage or hurting someone, or do you tell the lie, feel guilty for lying but manage to save a life or calm a dangerous situation?
The constant rule of truth.
In whatever situation you ever get into wondering whether, to tell the truth, or lie, you should always tell yourself nothing but the truth. Never lie to yourself at any point. There is no situation where lying to yourself will be the best option. If you feel heartbroken never lie to yourself that you are not.
It is called leaving in denial which often results in more damage. If you do not know how to play chess, do not lie. Otherwise, you may be put to a test and end up embarrassed. You can lie to everyone but YOU.
The white lie and the real lie.
So you told your spouse that you are about to be arrested at a restaurant for failing to pay the bill so he should rush to help you. He got into the car and drove to where you were only to be hit by loud shouting. Happy Birthday!!!!. His mother, father, siblings, and friends all present. That is a white lie.
You told your five-year-old that you got her young brother from a baby shop because you didn’t want to tell her that you had sex and got pregnant. Another white lie.
White lies are harmless lies told with no intent of harm or potential harmful likely outcome.
When you told your parents that you are going to bed but instead passed through your bedroom window and went to spend the night with your boyfriend, you told a real lie. Your parents were disappointed by the lie and the risk of leaving home at night without their consent.
You told her you were single and available to date her. She became your girlfriend. Later she finds out you are married. A big Real lie.
A real lie is one told with selfish intentions to get what one wants at expense of another person’s peace, money, career, health, or even life.
The levels of truth.
Let us be realistic. You can not be 100% honest in everything you do. What makes you dishonest is the type of lies you tell and the consequences they hold. There are times you will have to tell a lie to let yourself off the hook without hurting anyone.
If you live a purist life, it is impossible to do something without telling a small lie here and there. However, acceptance of some lies should not make you a pathological liar.
The frequency of the lies you tell determines how believable your next lie will be. If you lie every other time, people will hardly trust what you say. If you rarely tell a lie, people will easily believe you when you lie.
But again not everybody should get your full honesty when they try to get something from you. It is therefore very important to know who to be honest with and to what extent.
Be 95% with family and friends that become family.
Family will love you for who you are. The same applies to very close friends that are more like family. It is important to be genuine and honest with them. Honesty cultivates and nurtures strong bonds. You definitely need a strong bond with family and very close friends.
They will be hurt if you tell them a lie they later prove. They will be happy for the truth they later prove as well. However, you have to save the 5% lies for situations where a lie would serve them better. For example, to surprise them, save their lives, etc.
75% for friends.
Life can not be in black and white. There is a grey area. If you have friends that are not so close to you. You hang out and do something together but they are not the kind you would call first if you have a problem, tell them the truth 75% of the time.
With these kinds of friends, you have a 15% allowance to lie. If you were in a conversation with them about your families, I don’t think it would be good for you to tell them how your mom and dad fight often.
You can simply lie that they don’t. This protects you from rumors that these not very close friends can spread. They can also use it against you. Not that your very close friends can’t do it. They can. However, chances are high that those you are not so close with will do it.
55% for colleagues.
Colleagues are those people you work with at your workplace. You have no other connection outside work. You see them from Monday to Friday and see them again the next Monday. Unless they are close friends that you share a lot with outside work, restrain from telling them a lot of truths about you.
It is important to not share so much with colleagues except the basics. Workplaces can be competitive socially, politically, and financially. The fewer truths they know about you the less they can use against you.
30% for strangers.
You definitely wouldn’t tell a stranger everything they can ask about you. If you ever meet a stranger and they disclose a lot of information to you easily and freely, run. That’s a red flag. They can’t keep a secret and do not have respect for themselves.
If you feel like you do not want to lie, tell them that you will tell them some other time if they insist. Telling the truth will put you at risk. What if you are telling a murderer where you stay.
15% to adversaries.
If you have an enemy, hide as much truth from them as you can. Sometimes our enemies are people we hang out with, work with or even stay with. You do not know what they are up to or how much spitefulness they hold for you. If you have to tell them the truth let it be 15% of what you say. Confuse them.
Situations of when to tell the truth.
The truth often comes out to prove the lie. If the consequences of a proven lie will hurt you more than telling the truth, tell the truth.
If the truth is going to help a lot of people, tell it, please. Even if it costs you something, please tell the truth.
If you have no sound and objective reason to lie, tell the truth.
If the lie will lead to other heavy lies, tell the truth to save yourself the burden of giving more lies.
If you are guilty or uncomfortable with keeping a lie, tell the truth.
If a lie risks your credibility and respect, tell the truth.
If the impact of the truth has long time positive effects that cannot be realized now, tell the truth. You have no reason to cover up for your brother testing cocaine which can make him addicted in the long run.
If lying holds you back, tell the truth. Do not lie about being happy in a relationship that is silently breaking you.
When to not tell the truth.
If you hold the right interests at heart, you can tell a lie. Take, for instance, your friend is admitted to a hospital for hypertension, you have no reason to tell her about her husband you saw kissing another lady. She can get a heart attack.
If the truth will cause delay, it is okay to tell a lie. You are late for a very important deal and your wife insists you first pick up something from the supermarket. If she can’t understand you, it’s okay to lie to her that you are going to do as she demands.
If a lie can save someone from suicide, please go ahead and lie. Juliet was on the verge of jumping off a skyscraper because of her ex-boyfriend who couldn’t come back to her. Maxim, her ex-boyfriend, lied that they will get back if she pulls back from the edge. She did. Her parents took her to therapy instead.
If a lie will save someone’s job or property, it’s okay to lie. Alice kept on lying to her husband’s creditors that James, the husband, was about to close a good deal that will give him money to pay them. This bought him time to find a job that would give him advance payment. He later managed to get it and saved the family house from being taken by the creditors.
If lying is part of your winning strategy. It’s hard to be a purist, most especially in business. Sometimes you have to lie to cover for a mistake that would destroy your business for good if admitted.
It is hard to always tell the truth. Sometimes the results of telling the truth can leave you regretting forever or even cause you severe psychological or physical damage. Whenever you are stuck between telling the truth and lying, weigh your options. Do it with detachment from your personal interests and try to be as objective as possible. If the results of the truth bring more damage than the guilt of lying, please tell a lie. Forgive yourself for it and know that you did the right thing. Have you ever been in such a situation, share with me in the comments section how you handled it?