Why do we use this cliched expression to start a sentence? What exactly do we mean by it? That I know you’d rather hear something else but I’d rather tell you the truth! Or that everything you heard from me so far wasn’t spoken.. well.. honestly!?
Dishonesty is so often glorified as practicality, street-smartness, worldly wisdom, diplomacy, etc. that plain-speak needs the crutch of this expression. We use it to avoid being perceived as rude or naïve and at the same time, to prepare the listener for the impact of unexpected honesty. To top it off, we add a hint of a smile and sugar-coat it as being “candid”.
The fact of the matter is that truth can only be one thing – the truth. Truthfulness is the single biggest value we never stop learning and never stop valuing in others. It’s a quality that keeps challenging us and testing us. It makes a profound impact as a childhood value and bears us down as the burden of our conscience.
And yet, we expect so little of it and offer even lesser!
Most of us think honesty is just about telling the truth. There’s so much more to it. It’s about –
- building trust,
- staying true,
- keeping promises,
- upholding commitments,
- being transparent,
- and most importantly communicating openly.
Impact of Reputation & Goodwill on the Balance Sheet
Honesty goes beyond personal virtues. It manifests itself as an extremely important business asset and even gets valued in monetary terms.
Regarded as the best policy in business, conducting business with honesty develops Goodwill. Honest business practices, transparent financial transactions, and fulfilment of promises – these are practices that help in building a company’s goodwill and impact its reputation in the market.
No wonder legendary investment guru Warren Buffett warns us how building a reputation takes 20 years and ruining it takes only five minutes.
For all its profitability, an organization arguably gains more respect for its genuine business practices and its founder’s image of integrity.
The painstakingly earned reputation of the Tata Group as an honest business house reflects in the timeless urban legends of a Tata Salt Pack being used as a weight measure. It’s all in the name, we say.
Sportsmanship and its Impact on Building Reputation
Indeed, honesty is the best policy in a Sportsperson’s life as well and the impact of honesty on an athlete’s career is undeniable.
Sporting acts such as admitting an undetected foul are not exactly perceived as strategic moves. Yet, they create the brand equity of an honest sportsperson and win more fans than any records a player can make.
Every article about Roger Federer celebrates his sportsman spirit alongside his many achievements. It has led to building his reputation as an honest achiever, elevated his stature beyond Tennis, and resulted in his long association with brands that inspire trust.
Contrast this with Lance Armstrong’s disgraceful doping scandal after a decade of dominance in professional cycling. Losing titles, respect, and over $100m in lawsuits – his story shows us how talent or success cannot replace honesty – even in the long run.
Building a reputation on sporting talent and nurturing it with integrity often wins athletes a great second career even after their sports career has ended.
Honesty: The Building Block of Relationships
Similar to our professional careers, honesty is the best policy that forms the foundation of our social lives.
Trust is the building block of friendships, marriages, social connections, and even our family relationships with all their natural entitlements. Without honesty, there’s no trust; and no relationship can survive without trust.
Society at large looks at honesty demonstrated through transparent behaviour and open communication as a prime indicator of a trustworthy leader. The impact of a spotless image on Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal’s political career is evident through his historic popularity and eventual ascension to power.
True, the real world requires diplomacy mixed with candour and there is no such thing as the absolute truth. What we need to understand is the spirit of honesty and its impact on our actions. Building a reputation of honesty needs a conscious thought process guided by genuine intent.
It’s difficult for a reason – it pays rich dividends.
If you still ask why honesty is the best policy, consider these insightful words of Mark Twain – “You don’t have to remember anything if you tell the truth!”
So, what do you think.. honestly?