I read this article by Paul Jarvis that provoked some thoughts about “honesty.” He said:

“I’d rather be honest and open about who I am, bad attitude, unpopular opinions, controversial views and all. You don’t have to agree with anything I say or believe in (I’d actually rather you didn’t, it makes things much more interesting). But know that it’s who I really am. If we met in person, you wouldn’t be at all surprised. The normal way I talk is the way I write my sales pages.”

So in the spirit of “honesty” let me confess something… I completely agree with Jarvis. But I don’t practice it. At least not as much as I would like to.

Why is that? Well, to be honest… I’m not sure. Hence this blog post. 🙂

Maybe you’re in the same boat. If so, keep reading because I’m going to do my best to figure out what’s stopping me from being a more honest and open person. And hopefully what I learn will be of value to you too.

Here’s my “thought plan” for this:

1) Clarify why I want to be a more honest person.
2) Define what type “honesty” I’m talking about.
3) Figure out how to be honest without being a jerk.
4) Think of how to apply this in real life.

Sounds like a plan! Let’s see if it works…

1) Why I want to be a more honest person

I desire to be a more honest and open person because those are the type of people I love, respect and connect with.

And I’m not just talking about people who agree with me. I actually appreciate people who are very honest, even if it means we disagree on certain things.

This came up recently when a close friend of mine came out of the closet as being gay. We were able to have an open and honest discussion about homosexuality without trying to convince the other person they were “wrong.” It was a great experience and I learned so much from it.

I’d just rather have conversations with people who are honest, but on the other side of an issue, than people who agree with me but aren’t honest.

So because these are the people I respect I just want to be more like that myself.

2) What it means to be an “honest” person

The type of honesty I’m talking about is being yourself no matter who is around. It’s about knowing who you are and being true to yourself, even if that means people won’t like you.

The opposite would be the chameleon who changes who they are (and what they say) based on who’s around. For most of my life I’ve been a chameleon.

And don’t get me wrong, being a chameleon has had it’s advantages. Chameleons are good at fitting in just about anywhere. This helped me navigate those crazy awkward high school years and form diverse sets of friendships.

I had friends who were stoners, jocks, goths, hippies, nerds, and hicks. And I was able to “fit in” with each group.

But the problem with being a chameleon is that it’s hard to develop deep friendships. If you’re constantly adapting who you are based on the moment, and the people you’re with, you become shallow and even start to forget who you really are.

While an honest person may not have as many friends as the chameleon, the friendships they do have are likely to be deeper.

An honest person shares more from their heart and less from their head. They could care less about being politically correct. It’s the difference between a Mitt Romney and a Donald Trump. You may disagree with Trump or not like him, but at least you know what he really believes.

Being honest means we don’t tip-toe around issues because we’re afraid what people may think. We stop saying things simply to please people. Honesty is rooted in a heart that loves and respects the truth.

3) How to be honest without being a jerk

I get annoyed at people who seem to have no respect for other people’s opinions or views. These people think they have a right to walk all over people in the name of “I just like to speak my mind.”

That’s the other end of the spectrum here. On one side you have people who are complete jerks who say things like, “What? I’m just being real.”

And on the other side you have the people-pleasing chameleons who say, “Let’s just agree that disagreeing is to be avoided at all costs.”

But I think there’s a happy medium. I believe it’s possible to be honest without being an ass if you remember to do one simple thing: honor everyone.

I know the word “honor” can seem old fashioned. But it’s a real thing and the more we can learn to cultivate a culture of honor in our hearts, the more we’ll be free to have healthy discussions with those we disagree with.

I may disagree with Obama about his politics but that doesn’t mean I have to dishonor the man by attacking him personally. There’s a fine line there.

4) Life Application: Being honest about your political views

Speaking of Obama, let’s talk about politics for a moment. Because I can’t think of any other topic (besides religion) that would be a good place to practice what we’re talking about.

We all know politics are very controversial. And unless you know where the other person stands on the issue you risk offending them. I get this. And I don’t like offending people.

So I’ve erred on the side of being “politically neutral” until I probe a little and find out where the other person stands.

But that’s the Chameleon Mindset. And we’re aiming for the Honest Mindset. If I only reveal what I think about an issue once I know you agree with me then I am not being honest.

I need to be free to speak my mind, without being a jerk, while also allowing the other person to do the same thing. So here’s how we can apply this to our life:

Next time a political issue arises and you’re in a group feel free to share your opinion on the matter, even if you don’t know where everyone stands.

But, and this is important to remember, make sure you do it in an honorable way. In other words, make sure you temper “speaking your mind” with the awareness that some may disagree with you, and to honor them in your comment.

To see a great example of someone who speaks honestly and who knows how to honor people he disagrees with look at Ben Carson. The Prayer Breakfast Speech he did while Obama sat 10 feet away from him is a great example of what we’re talking about.

Carson shows that it’s possible to be open and honest without being a jerk.

So anyway, I hope this helps you. Remember, you have a right to speak your mind and voice your opinions and so does everyone else. Let’s be ourselves and honor others at the same time. It’s possible!