One of the age-old philosophies of ethical business is the idea that “honesty is the best policy.” And while that quote makes a great axiom in a Ben Franklin almanac, the philosophy of the statement hardly applies today.
And not because honest is no longer important. It is. And not because honesty isn’t the ethical choice. Because it is.
The reason why that philosophy doesn’t work is because of how we interpret it.
We think that honesty is a license to be spiteful.
A license to be cruel and unforgiving. A viable explanation for anger, revenge, and selfish behavior.
How often have you heard someone around you use the words “but I am just being honest” as an explanation for something incomprehensibly awful they have just said or done?
We’ve made honesty a weapon for selfish intentions rather than a guide post for ethical behavior.
Think about the absurdity of honesty. Complete honesty.
What if everyone around you were able to know your deepest, darkest fear? What if everyone around you knew the secret vice you ‘re horrified of anyone knowing?
That would be honest. You would be honest.
But you would be a painfully broken individual.
Because without kindness, honesty sucks the hope out of every thing that we do. It devours your dreams. It cripples your will to change and blinds you to see the person you could otherwise become.
This is true for you. It’s just as true for your employees, your customers, and your prospects.
Honesty is a great policy. To be honest is to be ethical.
But do not confuse honesty with the best policy.
The best policy is kindness.
Without it the truth doesn’t really matter.