The Conflict of Honesty

Chapter 97 of Adam Khan's book Self-Help Stuff That Works

WE'RE AFRAID TO BE HONEST. I'll admit it, I am too. And we should be afraid of it. Honesty can cause conflict - uncomfortable, gut-wrenching, upsetting confrontations with people. We hate those and try to avoid them. One of the main reasons we try to avoid conflict is because we're not very good at it. And because we avoid it, we never have a chance to become good at it.

Luckily, many people have gone before you. Some of them have risked honesty and gotten good at the conflict it can create, and some of them have even written down what they've learned.

It seems that there are some basic rules you can follow, and with a little practice, you can learn to deal with conflict in a way that helps other people and yourself at the same time. Here are the two main rules to follow when you find yourself in conflict with someone:

  1. Listen well. Interruptions block the flow of communication and prevent progress. Sometimes an interruption jars or upsets the speaker. Give people your attention. Let them finish. Do your best to understand what they're saying. You don't have to agree with what they're saying, but try to understand it from their point of view - try to understand why they think that way. And let them know you understand.
  2. Speak only what's strictly true. This sounds a lot easier than it is. Try it. Try going a day only saying what you know is true. I'm not talking about philosophical, airy-fairy stuff, either; I don't mean getting into a debate about whether or not your chair really exists. I mean, in a practical sense, see if you can go a whole day only saying what you know is true. It's tougher than you'd think, so don't treat this one lightly. During conflict, concentrate on saying only what you know is true.

IMPOSE THESE TWO disciplines on yourself. You will be able to be more honest and you'll have more control over your life. This is no small accomplishment. Honesty sounds kind of corny, but more honesty means more freedom and more personal strength. And no lasting peace can settle in your heart without it.

Be honest. If it causes conflict, listen well and only say what is strictly true.

Self-Help Stuff That Works makes an excellent gift. You can order it now and send it to a friend.

Here's a way to keep your cool when you feel like you can't listen. It's a negative way to be positive, but when you are feeling angry or bitter or jealous or annoyed, this way is often easier than trying to muster a positive attitude directly:
Argue With Yourself And Win!


Sometimes and for some people, physical action works better than mental action for turning a negative attitude into a positive attitude. If that's you, you're in luck! Check it out:
A Simple Way to Change How You Feel

Here's a conversation on how to change the way you interpret the events in your life so that you neither become a doormat nor get upset more than you need to:

The art of controlling the meanings you're making is an important skill to master. It will literally determine the quality of your life. Read more about it in:
Master the Art of Making Meaning

next: E-Squared

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, November 3). The Conflict of Honesty, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, July 14 from

Last Updated: March 31, 2016

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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