Honesty is one of the hardest topics to cover. Although there are thousands of books and articles out there teaching you how to be dishonest, such as how to cheat, how to lie, and how to spy on others; very few actually cover how to be honest in a practical way and backed by scientific evidence.
Today being honest, while becoming more successful, is needed more than ever. Especially in the digital age that makes cheating so much easier. Surveys and collective evidence has shown that it’s probably the number one trait women look for in men, according to Daniel Goleman. This is my interpretation and personal guidance on what it means to be more honest and open with your relationships, and how to achieve it in practice in your everyday life.
This leads me to one simple advice that I tell myself and others ad nauseam:
You can always be more honest, you just don’t know it.
This advice is, ironically enough, an overly honest one: it’s like a slap in the face to most people. It’s akin to me calling them a liar, though that’s not my intention. According Dan Ariely,
Most people, even the thieves and liars, wouldn’t even consider themselves dishonest.
The simple fact is that most people don’t even know enough about their dishonesty to even admit to it. We all deceive ourselves and others in some shape or form. This is fine and dandy in most aspects of life. The problem really only manifests itself when we need to get down to personal and relationship issues, where a profound amount of honesty is required to build deeper rapport and intimacy.
“Great! how do I become more honest?” You ask. Yet I think the better question would be “how can you be more aware of your dishonesty?” To do this, I think you have to become a little dishonest on purpose first. Doing this will achieve two things: you will draw a clearer line between honest and dishonest actions; and then recognizing how these dishonest actions, even when done for an honest intention, will take a toll on your self-esteem.
Then I’m going to show you how you can be just a little more honest, bit by bit. Hopefully, spurred on this magical portion, you will become a Don Juan in your life, whom honesty is so immense in his eyes that women cannot but fall for. To be sure, these are not a set of tactics you perform to seem more honest to others. Faking it becomes taxing and exhausting over time.
This is about how to develop the personal integrity mentality that allows you to be honest with even the most vulnerable things about yourself. This is the right type of honesty that allows you to establish deeper connections with the right people in your lives, or drive away people that shouldn’t be.
As a side note, the majority of theories and data I present here are based on 3 major works: Social Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, The Honest Truth About Dishonesty by Dan Ariely, and The 50th Law by Robert Greene.
What Stops Us from Being More Honest? We Don’t Know About Our Inherent Dishonesty
As Dan Ariely proposes in his book, we all are a little bit dishonest but we believe that we are mostly honest individuals. The dishonesty comes from the “fudge factor” that is needed to maintain the balance between the ideal self-image and pursuing our desires through whatever means necessary. This fudge factor has very little to do with external factors like the chance of getting caught or the potential gains/losses. This factor is required for us to rationalize our behaviors and actions while we commit questionable acts.
For men, the fudge factor comes in 2 specific phenomenon that are problematic in interacting with women we desire: projection and rationalization.
Projection is when we project our value system to others. Because we look at women as how we see ourselves, we think we can trade a bit of honesty for validation. Men are used to being a little bit deceptive toward each other, like players at a poker table. We assume that this is the same game to play with women.
The other issue is a little bit deeper and it’s called rationalization. Rationalization is a way to justify a set of actions and behaviors by twisting the facts to fit into a pattern of cause and effect. As an example, we rationalize that if we buy a girl a drink, she should spend some time talking to us and getting to know us. This is according to some fair trade agreement that was established at the dawn of time, right?
From there on out, it becomes a sliding slope, where a lot of anger and blame get passed around. Men blame women for taking their affection for granted. Women blame men for being dishonest about their intention. So it spirals downward and no one would be getting intimate with each other.
Great, so just be more honest and everything will work out right? Not quite true yet. Because we are so unaware of the inherent dishonesty which justifies all our actions, we can’t really act honestly until we learn to how to really act dishonesty. Then we can objectively judge the intention and its results. There are tons of information out there on how to do it and get away with it. But the simple truth boils to the fact that you probably don’t really know how to be dishonest. Now it’s a double slap in the face–first I called you a liar, then I just called you a bad liar.
The reason is that you need to learn how to be dishonest with a purpose and at the right time. Doing so will achieve 2 things:
- You realize how terrible dishonesty is for your own self-esteem and
- the right time/place to do it so you can get it out of the way and get back to your honest self.
Life is full of twists and turns, and you can’t expect yourself to be perfectly straight and true all the time. Before you are forced to act dishonestly against your will, do it deliberately to avoid further entanglements.
How to Be Dishonest in 6 Easy Steps
Even Honest Abe had his ways of swaying the North’s sentiments to turn against slavery. Winston Churchill had his masterful D-Day deception plan called Overlord. Themistocles had to trick his Athenian citizens to funding a large navy to fight off a Persian invasion.
Dishonesty is required in everyday battles. However, most of us are only dishonest enough to maintain an internal self-image rather than for a specific purpose.
If you simply lie to people straight face, people can either read the in-congruence in your subconscious facial cues. People have a “Radar for Insincerity”, as Dr. Goleman puts it, where we can feel that other person is not being 100% honest and forthright with us from their facial expressions and demeanor.
If you have to be deceptive and to mislead people, here’s how you should do it:
- To be deceptive, you have to start out with being honest, almost to a fault. You have to establish a dependable front and rapport.
- You have to read people’s intentions and beliefs, and play to that. People will believe what they want to believe. This is confirmation bias in action.
- Drop very subtle hints and clues to lead them to believe something that isn’t true. The truth is often contradictory, so your deception has to be also. Mix facts and lies together in a timely manner.
- Believe your own lies as much as possible, then you can convince others of it.
- Have a purpose and strategy to being deceptive. Without it, you will be lost in your own deception.
- Have an exit strategy. It will all blow up in your face sooner or later. You don’t want to be around when it happens.
When you need to be deceptive and you are not following these steps in some form, you are being dishonest to maintain a self-image and not deeply enough to affect a concrete outcome. When you do go through these steps, you realize how mentally taxing and dangerous it is to keep up this deceptive front.
Whereas the garden variety dishonesty required to maintain a positive self-image is effortless (like stealing office material from work), real deception takes a toll on your self-esteem. You start to lose sight of your own identity and reality. You might even become a serial liar if you have an addictive personality.
However, there are times in life that calls for you to be dishonest to deal with another dishonest or difficult opponent. Knowing the true method and cost of being dishonest, you work proactively to deceive them so that you don’t get dragged into their petty games that you cannot win. You learn to be bad quickly and purposefully, then move away from the situation as cleanly as possible. The point is that to polarize yourself between dishonesty and honesty, you have to recognize it and draw a clear line between what is acceptable according to your values and boundaries. Speaking of values and boundaries…
How to Be Honest in 6 Hard Steps
People who tend to be more dishonest than others typically don’t have concrete personal values and boundaries. Dishonesty comes from seeking to take things from others rather than to give or to genuinely connect with people.
Once you have learned to recognize the dishonesty in yourself and know when to use it constructively, you will start to see the beliefs and intentions within yourself that caused it in the first place. Don’t blame yourself or who raised you. Those beliefs were passed down through the generations subconsciously. However, now that you are consciously aware of it, you can work to undo those beliefs and build new, honest ones.
1. Establish your values concretely
Prioritize and reevaluate them as often as necessary. This will allow you to build strong personal boundaries (such as an honor code) that you won’t let others, and most importantly yourself, violate. These values give you a sense of self-worth and achievement at the end of the day. Honoring them will give you something larger to desire rather than petty things that people are typically dishonest for.
2. Live more consciously and responsibly
Dan Ariely shows that we tend to become less and less honest as we become exhausted, distracted, or inundated with information. When we learn to live consciously, we are less likely to be swayed by the twists and turns of life. Regularly check your inner and outer congruence. Pay more attention to the present. Meditate. You will find it easier to stay true to your creed.
3. Establish a sense of purpose in as many things you do as possible
A sense of purpose will give a counter-balancing rationale on why you should act honestly. It’s this sense of purpose that you should be true to, rather than random impulsive desires that fill your days. Your personal integrity is tied to how much you are serving your sense of purpose. Conversely, you will recognize how much are you doing a disservice to this purpose when you don’t act honestly.
4. Positively reinforce your personal integrity by self-validating the honest acts you perform..
..regardless of the results or recognition you derived from it. Negatively disassociate yourself from any dishonest act by vowing to do better next time. Be careful not to shame yourself, which brings on the “What the Hell” effect (once a dishonest act is committed the honest self image is lowered, other dishonest acts tend to follow). Just simply promise to do better should the situation arises again.
5. Take feedback from others
You take feedback so that you can tweak and fine tune how you communicate your intentions to others. Most of us fail at conveying exactly what we want due to the fact that we depend too much on words and we don’t know how to calibrate our style according to others.’ Use people’s Radar for Insincerity as a mirror to judge your actions. Since we are all more adept at sensing dishonesty in others than in ourselves, we must use others’ reactions to better effect.
When you take feedback however, you must take care not to stray from your original intention, whatever it may be. Feedback represents an opportunity to improve, not as a reflection of your self-worth. Most people will be projecting and rationalizing just as you are. Isolate their conscious and subconscious feedback and reevaluate your own projection in a feedback loop. Take deep feedback from the people you trust, since their intentions align with your attempt to be more honest (instead of trying to maintain harmony with or to flatter you).
6. Seek and cherish each “moment of truth” that all of us eventually encounter in life
We all must testify in front of others at some point. Testify, a word coming from the Greek origin of holding your own testicles as tokens of truth which can be taken away if you are proven to be lying, has strong implications to your honesty. As I will go in-depth below, we will all experience rejection and pain at some point in life. However, these moments shouldn’t be just avoided, they should be sought out. In these moments, we can only experience truth. Our truths. In these moments, we will learn the most about ourselves down to the core.
Rejection: The moment of truth
Have you ever had a moment where you feel like you have no place left to hide? It’s in these moments that you either put up or shut up. These are the moments that you act boldly and confidently, and end up… being rejected. Life is full of moments like this, such as when you go on stage and get boo’ed, or when you take a penalty shot and miss, or when you ask her out and she says no, or when you say you’re sorry but your girlfriend or wife shuns you.
These are all examples of interpersonal rejection, and in them, you will feel pain coming from the same location in your brain as physical pain – in the anterior cingulate cortex. There are much anxiety in simulating and anticipating these moments, for good reasons. This leads to typical avoidance behavior, also for good reasons.
However, for even better reasons, if you are seeking to be more honest, you will seek out and experience these moments as often as possible. This seems insane, but the simple reason is that these are your personal moments of truth.
If you can look past the pain and anxiety, you will see that pure unfiltered information presented to you about who you are and what your deeper purpose in life may be.
You have nowhere to hide from this information, and it’s as liberating as it is painful.
When you experience rejection, you feel as if you are alone in the world. As the theory of positive disintegration suggests, these troubling moments, if handled correctly and with a strong sense of self, end up building one’s character rather than destroy it.
In these moments, you realize that if you are dishonest, the first person you cheat is yourself. If you live, act, and communicate assertively and honestly, the first person who benefits is yourself. It was you who expressed yourself, who took the shot, who asked her out. If and when the results don’t go your way, you have the personal ownership and responsibility to do it better and more honestly next time. You take this task upon yourself.
This will push you deeper toward a stoic path that the Romans call amor fati, which means to love one’s own fate, regardless of good or bad. No one can take these moments of truth away from you. Slowly and surely, you will build a strong sense of self-belief that enables you to face even the worst of times. You embrace these honest moments of self-defining.
You will care less and less of their superficial outcomes, and more and more about how they build your character. Then and only then you will start to become as honest as you can be with the ever-changing force that is femininity.
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