Good Habits #14: Being Honest and Straight Forward

By | August 5, 2015

[August 5, 2015] My maternal grandmother was fond of giving her grandchildren sage advice. One particular time when a group of us cousins were playing with fireworks and had set the grass on fire, she said to us “okay, spit it out, who started this, and whoever did it can expect a butt whoopin’.” She put fear into us but what she really wanted was for us to be honest and straight forward about what had happened.

She was trying to teach us the value of being a good person because this trait is what her generation had learned as the only way to improve their lot in life. She was a product of the Great Depression where a single penny (just one cent) meant much more to her than a hundred dollars means to me today. There is an old photo of 11 of us grandchildren standing beside her 1954 Ford Crown Victoria automobile. We had all been given a valuable lesson in honesty that day from her and the expression on our faces tells all.

There are some ways for us to be honest and straight forward. Like my grandmother told us, “it’s better to be truthful now than truthful after a whoopin’ for doing something wrong” … seems like we could never hide anything from her. Here is some additional advice of hers that supports being honest and straight forward:

  • Always tell the truth (even if it hurts)
  • If you can’t say something good, then don’t say anything
  • Don’t make promises you can’t keep
  • Obey the Golden Rule and treat others like you would have them treat you

My grandmother would not like our politicians today. The trustworthiness and honesty of our elected representatives is very low in the opinion of most Americans. The same is true in Europe and I would expect a similar opinion in any democracy. She would say that they just aren’t being honest and straight forward; they shade the truth, talk in circles, and frequently talk bad about others.

With the upcoming presidential elections in the United States, there will be many opportunities to test the words of the candidates. Those that are plain spoken and do so without a prepared speech are the ones most likely to advance. Perhaps this is why the outspoken Donald Trump leads the pack of Republicans when so many predicted his campaign would implode. This is also why the shadiness of Hillary Clinton is reflecting in her low favorability rating.

The best way of being held in high regard is by being honest and straight forward. “But, why can’t politicians follow the advice of our grandmother?,” so asked my cousin from north Louisiana. Of course, I had no answer.

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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.