Honesty is about telling the truth. It’s easy to be honest most of the time.
But sometimes it can be really hard. Usually, people tell small lies to preserve social relationships, protect others’ feelings. or their own self-image.
Nevertheless, being honest when it is tough shows our character. It shows people that you are someone who has integrity.
Below are some examples of honesty, both times when it’s hard and easy!
Examples of Honesty
1. Admitting when you were Wrong
Honest people are willing to say that they were wrong about something. But this isn’t just an issue of honesty. It’s also an issue of having the strength to change and grow as a person.
Too often, people will realize they were wrong but they’ll be too stubborn to admit it. They will defend the indefensible just so they don’t look bad.
An honest person will say “you know what, I changed my mind!” This may be a little embarrassing at first, but in the long-run, people will respect you and trust that you tell the truth no matter what.
2. Choosing not to Cheat
Cheating is dishonest while following the rules is honest. Sometimes we get the opportunity to cheat (and might even know we can get away with it!) But an honest person will follow the rules no matter what because they know it’s the right thing to do.
By following the rules, you’ll make sure you don’t put yourself in a situation where you have to tell a lie. You can always say “yes, I followed the rules”.
It also means that when you win in games, you can be happy with yourself knowing you won because you are a talented person and not because you cheated.
An honest person will choose not to take more than their fair share.
You often see children trying to sneak extra bites of cake or more treats than they were allowed to have. This is an example of dishonesty.
But you also see honest people making sure everyone get their fair share. They don’t need someone to tell them not to take more than they’re entitled to.
For example, if you are sharing a meal with someone, you would make sure that the person you’re sharing with gets their half. If you’ve had your half, you can stop rather than continuing to eat and tell the person you’re sharing with: “the rest is yours!”
4. Speaking up when Something Upsets You
Sometimes honesty means having the courage to speak when you don’t have to. Many people are so polite or shy that they won’t speak up when they really should.
A classic example of this is when someone is doing something that is upsetting. They might be saying something offensive without realizing it or they might keep using your things.
You can speak up and say “this is how I feel about this situation”. This is honest. But many people will stay quiet or even pretend that they aren’t upset. They do this with good intentions (to be polite) but this doesn’t resolve the problem. We have an idiom for this: “you’re being walked over”.
5. Saying an Unpopular Truth
Throughout history, brave people have been honest about sharing the truth even if it was harmful to them.
One example is Galileo. He was oppressed for sharing his research. The authorities didn’t like what he was saying because it undermined their power.
This doesn’t mean that you should make things up. Be sure that the things you are saying are true and you really believe them. But by speaking up about the truth, you’re choosing to be true to who you really are, and you might even change the world like Galileo.
6. Showing Disappointment and Emotions
People who hide their emotions, even when asked how they feel, are often being dishonest so they don’t appear weak. But the reality is that everyone feels sad at times, and we should be okay with that!
We’re often taught to hide our disappointment, and sometimes that’s the right thing to do. At the end of a game that you lose, most people think you should be humble and happy for the winner.
But sometimes it’s brave to show your emotions. For example, if you’re feeling sad about something, you might need to share this with people who can talk about it with you so you can start feeling better.
7. Returning Something that Belongs to Others
If you have something that doesn’t belong to you, the right thing is to return it. In childhood, most people stole something small. The honest thing would be to give it back to the person it rightly belongs to.
This is another example of an instance where it’s hard to be honest. In this situation, being honest will probably hurt your reputation in the short-term. You’re admitting that you did something that reflects poorly on your character.
But you also need to remember that being honest when it hurts you actually says something big about your character. It shows that you have integrity.
8. Sharing Constructive Feedback
When we give people feedback, we need to be careful to be honest. The best example of this is when people ask us what the meal they cooked was like.
Our feedback might highlight some negative elements. But if we aren’t honest, then the person’s cooking will never improve!
A good balance between being polite and honest is to give constructive feedback. This is feedback that is carefully chosen so you’re not being rude. You’re giving help. You can say “maybe next time add a little more salt” instead of just saying “it was disgusting”.
9. Doing the Right Thing (When you Didn’t Have To)
An honest person chooses to do the right thing even when people aren’t watching.
For example, if you are in the store and knock something off the shelf and it breaks, you might be able to just walk away and pretend you didn’t do it.
But a person who is honest might take it to the customer service desk and let them know that you broke it (or at least put it back on the shelf, if it wasn’t broken!). Unfortunately, too many people in this world won’t do the right thing if they aren’t held accountable by others.
10. Correcting a Mistake that Benefited You
The best example for this is when the cashier gives you too much money in change at the supermarket.
Some people will choose to walk away with the extra money because they got away with something!
But honest people go back and let the cashier know that they were given too much change. They do the right thing not because it benefits them, but because they know it is moral and honest to do so.
11. Not Misrepresenting yourself on Social Media
Today, many people choose to present a fake and unrealistic version of their identity online. We might do this to try to make us look better to other people.
Some of us might consider this dishonest. At the very least, it’s not sharing the whole truth!
Sharing an unrealistic version of yourself can have many negative consequences. It can make other feel bad thinking you’re amazing and comparing themselves to you. But, when people really get to know you and realize you’re not the perfect thing you’ve portrayed, they will think you’re a liar!
So, an honest person would make sure they’re not trying to misrepresent themselves as a “perfect” or idealized version of themselves on social media.
Related Required Skills For Students And Employees
Here are some other skills you might need to be able to demonstrate as a successful employee or college student:
There are countless examples of honesty, but I think the above 11 are some of the best and most common that demonstrate you have great personal qualities. They show how sometimes being honest can be really hard. It’s sometimes easier to lie.
In our culture, telling little ‘white lies’ is seen as not a bad thing. Sometimes it preserves social relationships and prevents people from getting hurt. But, in other times, people lie just for their own advantage. And this, I think, is the worst example of dishonesty.
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education.