Honesty needs wisdom to handle.

Before you start reading this article, i would like to mention that i do not consider myself an expert in this area. The  article is my point of view on the above subject which can help us to discuss further. So hear it goes…… 

We all know that being honest is the right thing to do. People feel good when they’re honest and they feel bad when they lie. Self-interest and self-image are both powerful factors influencing a person’s decision to be honest. This makes, being honest difficult, and puts a cost on being honest very high.

If we set a high moral ground, as per Kant the great philosopher, being dishonest to someone is disrespecting the person. A person deserves to know the truth, irrespective of the outcome.

In the current context, the question to be raised is, do we praise and reward honesty enough? Unfortunately, when we are honest and the outcome is not desired, very often we are slammed and scolded. This encourages us to be dishonest.

We are in a society mostly we say what the other person wants to hear.

In the book written by monk Ajahn brahm in which he narrated an interesting incident “A young female came to the Ajahn brahm who was pretty tensed she revealed to him that she was pregnant for over 3 months and she did not know what to do, and she was very scared to discuss with her parents”

This actually raises an important question, shouldn’t at times of difficulty a child should have the comfort to approach his or her parents without any fear. Over the years unknowingly we have been treating mistakes very harshly and that becomes a serious deterrent for being honest. Under stress we all end up taking foolish decisions a matured head in this case, the child parent can take a stable decision. In the above example the female was scared being honest to her own parents for obvious reasons. Shouldn’t there be an immunity if a person is honest or else how are we going to promote honesty as a behavior.

Mistakes are bound to happen. So when we make mistakes, you want people to accept the mistakes with wisdom and some degree of acceptance.

Reacting harshly to mistakes comes from the strong urge to control,  we try to control the output which is not easy to control because there are lot of dynamics involved. So when the output is not as planned, we get upset and angry. Mistakes will happen, it depends upon us how we react, because how we react determines peoples behavior.

You would wonder I am far from reality, let me quote a paragraph from Ray Dalio book PRINCIPLES which is very relevant to build my case further.

“Ross who was in charge of trading at the time forgot to put in a trade for a client and the money just sat there in cash. By the time the mistake was discovered the damage was several hundred thousand dollars.

It was a terrible and costly error and I could have done something dramatic like fire Ross to set a tone that mistake would not be tolerated. But since mistakes happen all the time, that would have only encouraged other people to hide theirs, which would have led them to even bigger and costlier errors. I believe strongly that we should bring problems and disagreement to the surface to learn what should be done to make things better.

So Ross and I worked to build out an error log in the trading department. From then on anytime there was any kind of bad outcome the traders would make a record of and we would follow up. As we consistently tracked and addressed the issue our trade execution machine continually improved. Having a process that ensures problems are brought to the surface and the root causes diagnosed assures that continual improvement occurs.

My rule was simple if something went badly, you had to put it in the log characterised it severity and make clear who was responsible for it. If a mistake happens and u logged it u were okay. If u didn’t you would be in trouble. “

Being honest needs courage and accepting it needs wisdom. The examples above show that there are lots to gain for either side by nurturing a culture of honesty. Honesty is a virtue which strongly needs to be promoted in our day to day dealing.



Ray Dalio (2017) PRINCIPLES, Newyork: Simon & Schuster.



The ideas, views and opinions expressed in the article represent my own views in my private capacity and not those of any of my current or previous employer, any institutions. The article is a research work based only the limited, dated and open source information. For the sources the statements have been quoted with the authors name. This article is only for the reading pleasure and while I invite the feedback and comments on the article, I will not be responsible or liable to any such comments as the same belong to the responder.”



  • HItesh

    May 29, 2019

    Nice One Manoj.

  • Anita

    May 30, 2019

    Too good! This will help me personally as I am raising a son and will not be harsh on his mistakes so that he can be honest with me. Thanks Manoj!

  • Shikha

    May 30, 2019

    Well expressed thought. Despite its merits, you may not see it present in many places because of the difficulty in the execution. A way forward could be to start with self and gradually, if followed effectively, it may become the culture.

    • manoj shetty

      May 31, 2019

      thanks for your comments

      • Vijay Karikatti

        June 2, 2019

        Truthful one… immense practical usage.. effectively communicated.. beneficial when adhered to it..Grey work Manoj

  • Namita

    June 1, 2019

    Well articulated and triggers self introspection….however there has to be a balance…sometimes total honesty is also not possible…thank you for sharing your thoughts and making us think…

  • Ketan

    June 1, 2019

    That was a good read. Keep them coming…Manoj

  • Vivek Jakkani

    June 1, 2019

    Amazingly written the article. Niven Article Sir ji.

    • Anonymous

      June 1, 2019


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