Sincericide: When being honest isn't the best choice

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Robert Maurer

Sincericide: When being honest isn't the best choice

Last update: April 15, 2017

Throughout our day, it happens to everyone to tell a few little lies. We know it well. The lie or lack of honesty serves to protect us from the consequences of truth. If we believe that something dangerous or unpleasant could happen to us, we tend to distort reality to adapt it to our needs. In this way, we safeguard our self-esteem and get rid of possible negative consequences.

It is said that being honest doesn't mean saying everything we think, but never saying the opposite of what we think.

However, the main reason for our lack of sincerity is not always fear. Compassion towards others can also make us opt for a benevolent lie. This type of lie is subtle, has little importance, doesn't last long, and can be useful and even beneficial for everyone, as it avoids further unnecessary conflict.

With this article we do not want to defend the lie, quite the contrary; however, we want to convey the message that not always being honest, with everyone and regardless of everything is a good idea, if we don't want to get into trouble or make some situations worse.

Are we sincere or rude?

Psychologists have adopted the pun "sincericide" to define behavior that leads a person to tell the whole truth to others in the name of honesty or courage without having any filter, even when in reality his opinion was not required. This term, of course, refers to "suicide" only in an abstract way, due to an excessive attachment to the truth.

Such behavior is often considered unscrupulous, irresponsible and a symptom of a lack of tact. In fact, sincericide can give rise to conflicts with the people around us, because it can be perceived as a rude behavior. And, certainly, it is legitimate to consider it as such.

In order not to argue with everyone, the ideal would be to first think about what we want to say and evaluate whether the person to whom the message is addressed is ready to digest it on an emotional level.

Being honest is not always a virtue, because education and respect should come first, especially when it comes to expressing an opinion that is not constructive or interesting for others. Spitting out everything that comes into our minds is a sign of lack of social skills, of inadequacy with respect to the rules of the game.

Have you ever felt enormously annoyed that someone told you that the clothes you are wearing are awful or that they saw your ex with someone else? Knowing how to find the right moment and context to say things - and knowing how to keep your mouth shut until then - is a virtue that should not be underestimated.. Some comments, in fact, are simply too many or should be made at another time.

Being honest by embellishing the truth

We all have the right to know the truth, but we also have the right to put limits on this knowledge. The ideal, as an adult, is to be able to be emotionally strong enough to accept the uncomfortable situations that life presents to us, in order to be able to act from a more equitable position.

The problem is that the truth, in some cases, hurts, and a lot. Not everyone is ready to receive extremely bad or dramatic news.

Imagine that you have just been diagnosed with a very serious illness. Would you like to know if you will die? Would you prefer that they hide the truth from you or would you like to know how long you have left to live? How would you like them to tell you this bad news?

As we have said, it is good to train to be able to face everything that life has in store for us, but it is also true that sometimes we do not mind that they present us with the slightly embellished truth. This is what we do with others too, when we want to "sweeten the pill" and decrease the negative impact of our messages.

If we are able to show empathy towards others, we will be judicious enough not to harm them and find the right words, and this is very different from telling something opposite to the truth.

Being sincere without becoming sincericides is a true art, because it means being able to put yourself in the shoes of the other, understanding if it is the right time to tell the truth and, moreover, using the appropriate verbal and non-verbal strategies.

Psychologist Rafael Santandreu argues that to feel good about oneself, one must always tell the truth, but to be comfortable with others, no. This means that we don't have to gild the pill alone, otherwise we will fall into the trap of self-deception that will not allow us to face life satisfactorily.

The important thing is to be careful to tell us the truth without criticizing ourselves too much. It is not the same thing to say to us: “Today's session was not the best” and to say to us “You are a bad psychologist, you should leave this profession forever”.

Acting as a sincericide against ourselves is not a good idea either. As in all things, virtue is always in the middle.

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