What does honesty mean and how can you promote it in everyday life?

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What does honesty mean and how can you promote it in everyday life?

When people are asked what values are most important to them in a friendship or partnership, honesty is often mentioned at the top of the list. Being honest is considered a desirable virtue that characterizes a straightforward personality. However, telling the truth under all circumstances is not always a good idea. It is necessary to find the right balance between honesty and tact.

So the goal is to be honest without wantonly hurting other people. But how can you succeed in this and how can you bring more honesty into your interpersonal relationships? This is what we want to deal with in the following.

What does honesty mean? A definition

There are numerous synonyms for the term honesty. If you consult the Duden dictionary, these are the following terms:

  • Sincerity
  • Straightforwardness
  • Decency
  • Righteousness
  • Fairness

In addition, a distinction is made between Honesty in statements and Honesty in behavior. The former means that someone sticks to clear facts when reproducing events orally or in writing and does not alter or embellish the facts.

Honesty in behavior is characterized by refraining from any attempts at manipulation. There is no attempt to deceive or influence others. Acting honestly is often even more difficult than expressing oneself honestly. After all, honest behavior includes a high degree of Self-reflectionwhich not everyone is willing or able to do.

Interesting to know: Before World War II, the term honesty was used exclusively in the sense of sincerity. According to the definition at that time, an honest person tells the truth and behaves in accordance with the law. Nowadays, the definition is supplemented by the factor Authenticity supplemented. So honesty also means being honest with all your strengths and weaknesses to stand by yourself.

honesty meaning

Why is honesty so important?

Almost everyone would agree that honesty is one of the most important values. However, if you look around in real life, fraud and deceit are the order of the day in many areas. According to a representative Study around 58 % of Germans lie every day.

In some situations, a white lie may be justifiable, but honesty is often the better option. Therefore, we have summarized the 5 most important arguments for more honesty in everyday life below:

1. honesty is an expression of respect

Most people are used to being flattered in order to win their goodwill. This may be pleasant at first, however, it leaves the Personality Development on the line in the long term.

Lying to someone about elementary matters also signals that you don't particularly care about them. By being honest with someone, you automatically earn that person's respect and trust. Appreciation I care about you and therefore you deserve my honest opinion. What consequences you draw from this, you decide for yourself."

2. you reach your goals faster

By clearly communicating what you expect, you are significantly more likely to achieve the desired end result. If you beat around the bush, don't be surprised if the result is not satisfactory. So be honest about your wishes and expectations.


  • Instead of, "I may want to pursue professional development."
  • Lieber: "I'm aiming for a leadership position."

3. honesty makes your everyday life easier

Telling lies is incredibly exhausting and even psychologically grueling in the long run. After all, you have to be able to remember all the made-up stories and not get confused about who you've told what to. If, on the other hand, you are honest, this problem does not arise. You can mentally relaxsince you don't have to fear being caught lying.

Furthermore you avoid misunderstandingswhich also makes your everyday life easier. Since your messages are neither fibbed nor ambiguous, there is no room for speculation for other people. By being honest, you also attract only those people who really suit you - whether professionally or privately.

4. honesty relieves you

Anyone who only ever swallows what they really think can unhappy or even get sick. Honesty, on the other hand, is balm for your soul. By being open about your beliefs, you strengthen your self-esteem. Strong self-esteem is in turn important for your professional success and your personal happiness.

5. honesty saves you energy-consuming discussions

Have you ever put off a friend or family member with a "maybe" when you really wanted to say "no"? In this way, you have merely postponed the problem. Sooner or later, the person will come back to you with their request. You will either find a new excuse or act against yourself.

If you had been honest from the beginning, it would have taken some effort, but your counterpart would have known exactly where he stood:

  • Instead of "I'll take a look." / "Let's see."
  • Rather, "No, I don't want to go to the movies / park / restaurant today."

Honesty in partnership and friendship

Honesty forms the basis for functioning interpersonal relationships. This applies equally to romantic, family and friendly relationships. After all, you want to be accepted by the people who mean something to you as you are - with all your wishes, opinions and faults. For this, honesty on both sides is indispensable.

He who is always pretending cannot make intimate Relationships build. Honesty, on the other hand, creates trust and Acceptance. As mentioned at the beginning, however, the right balance is important. Unfortunately, radical honesty is often taken as a license for tactless statements or inappropriate behavior. By doing this, however, you destabilize your social relationships considerably.

In a friendship or partnership, it is of elementary importance to be able to give each other an honest opinion without devaluing the other person in a human way. You can do this, for example, by avoiding hurtful words. Here is a simple example.

  • Instead of, "Your butt is too fat for this dress."
  • Rather, "I think the dress fits unflatteringly."

Both statements express the truth, but the second variant is much more tactful. If the other person is about to commit a serious mistake, you may of course also find clear words. But here, too, the following applies: Do not violate the dignity of your counterpart under any circumstances.

honesty relationship

7 tips on how you can promote honesty in everyday life

Promoting honesty in everyday life is not difficult at all. We've put together seven practical everyday tips for you.

1. become aware of your own strengths and weaknesses

Honesty and authenticity go hand in hand. Therefore, you should be aware of your personal strengths You must not only become aware of your strengths and weaknesses, but also communicate them openly to those around you. This will give you the impression of reliability and integrity. It is best to make a written list of your strengths and weaknesses based on past experiences.

2. ask if your opinion is wanted

Expressing your honest opinion merely means giving impulses to your fellow human beings. Whether and how they implement your advice is up to them. Before you express your opinion on the personal circumstances of another person without being asked, it therefore makes sense in many cases to gently feel your way forward: Do you want to know what my opinion is? May I give you some advice?

By being sensitive, the other person is far more likely to listen to your honest opinion. If, on the other hand, you force your views on someone without being asked, you automatically provoke a defensive attitude in your counterpart.

3. engage in self-reflection

Try to find out why it is difficult for you to be honest: In what situations do you tend to tell the untruth? Playing possibly FearDo you think shame or your ego play a role? Only by getting to the bottom of the causes can you specifically change something about them. In this context it is important, honest with yourself to be.

4. pay attention to your tact

A well-known saying goes: Everyone wants honesty, but hardly anyone can really bear the truth. The magic word is: tact. Don't use the pretext of blunt honesty to hurt or dominate other people. You can also be honest in your criticism without being insulting and transgressive.

5. be open

If you are open about your own weaknesses, strengths and desires, you will not only appear more authentic. By revealing something about yourself, you lower your counterpart's inhibition threshold to confide in you as well. This can create a basis for a conversation characterized by honesty and trust.

Of course, this does not mean that you have to reveal your most intimate secrets. Nevertheless, this can Admitting past mistakes and weaknesses arouse sympathy. Someone who is in a similar situation, for example, can identify with you in this way.

6. learn to deal with criticism

If you demand honesty but can't deal with unpleasant truths, you've self-explanatorily not gained much. If you want to integrate more honesty into your everyday life, you should be prepared to listen to the opinions of those around you.

Don't immediately deny all statements that displease you, but deal with them: Could there perhaps be a grain of truth in the unpleasant criticism? Also, ask your interlocutors to justify their opinions. Why do you create a certain impression?

7. eliminate certain phrases from your vocabulary

There are certain phrases that are supposed to signal honesty, but in reality have the exact opposite effect. This includes the classic "honestly said." By verbally emphasizing honesty, you drive yourself into a corner without meaning to. You are, in fact, indicating that you feel guilty and obligated: "Honestly, I don't have time."

Phrases like "it's okay" or "actually" are also poison for an honest relationship. With the first phrase, your counterpart can never be sure whether he has not aroused your displeasure. By using the word "actually," you unnecessarily weaken your own position and provoke unpleasant questions.


  • "Actually, I'm happy with my job."
  • "What don't you like?"

Conclusion: Honesty forms the basis of a healthy relationship

Honesty is the basis of a functioning social fabric. This applies in both the professional and private spheres. Without honesty, trust cannot develop. But this is particularly important in relationships based on partnership. A relationship in which the partners trust each other distrust, is simply doomed to failure.

As already explained, you should never use the cloak of honesty to hurt other people. Verbal pejoratives of any kind are generally taboo. It is certainly possible to express unpleasant facts tactfully without losing their expressiveness.

In principle, you should attach great importance to the topic of honesty in your relationship. However, do not only demand this from your partner, but act accordingly yourself. This also includes tactfully speaking out and enduring unpleasant truths. What may be difficult at first will lead to greater honesty in the long run. Satisfaction for both parties.


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Reviewed by Dr. med. Stefan Frädrich

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