How much truth-sharing is enough? We continue our ethics conversation with a baseline assumption of wanting to tell the truth (being honest), and to not mislead (not deceive) others. Once this commitment is made, how do we live this out in everyday life? We will explore what motivates us to tell the truth a bit later.
We start by observing various factors affecting the degree of truth (true information) we share with others.
The variable is intimacy of the relationship. We tend to share more with people we know. A picture of the various relationships (represented here in a possible order of intimacy) shows how the less known and involved with a person or organization, the less information is shared. And a reminder that for our conversation purposes, we are assuming we only desire to tell the truth.
Closer relationships: Spouse, children, family, friends
Not so close: Other people, neighbors, acquaintances
Distant: Companies, groups, faceless institutions
The level of involvement in a situation depends on level and ownership of responsibility. How much does the person need to know to make a decision or to participate in an activity? Also, included here is the capacity to understand. For instance, in business, business owners and leaders, not staff employees, are faced with the responsibility of making decisions in risky situations with less than 100% perfect information. Sometimes there is not a baseline context that can be passed on to staff for full appreciation and understanding. (You have to live it out.) It is frustrating to staff to not know “everything,” however it can be more damaging if an attempt is made to share more than enough information without being understood.
Our ability to influence others. Our attempt to persuade someone to take on a particular position. We attempt to influence the beliefs, opinions, and actions of others with the words we use and the actions we make.
Our next conversation will dive into some useful prompts we can carry around with us as we face daily challenges against our commitment to honesty (and not deceiving).
Remember the commitment to not deceive? How is that going for you? Can you live a life without sometimes deceiving? Can we approach situations completely selfless? (Can we ever escape selfishness?)