Trust Tip Video: Truth is More Than Not Lying

We all think lying is bad. Pretty much, mostly, usually. We think of lying as saying something that is not true. But not saying something that is true can get us in even more trouble.

We underestimate the power of truth-telling.

That’s what this week’s Trust Tip video is about.

For more on the subject of truth-telling, lies and untold truths, you might enjoy reading Truth, Lies and Unicorns.

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2 replies
  1. Bwhipple
    Bwhipple says:

    Hi Charlie.  This Tip made me think. I always appreciate that about your tips.  Watching the video left me a bit confused.  In the first part, you seemed to be making a case that not speaking something that is true is worse than speaking something that is false. I was wrapping my head around that (and not completely agreeing) when it seemed you switched back in the second half to talking about the conventional view of simply telling the whole truth. 

    So straighten me out. I do agree that telling the truth is essential to build trust. That seems intuitively obvious.  I am not going to trust someone who tells me a falsehood. 

    But, do I withhold trust in someone who does not spout out everything that he or she believes to be true?  I think not.  Actually, if I attempted to tell you everything I believe is true, this would be a very long note. You would lose trust and patience with me long before I reached the last morsel of my truth. 

    Can you clarify what you mean in this tip?  I am guessing that you mean that omitting a critical fact that I should know is as bad as telling me something that is not true.  I can go along with that logic.  What you said in your video seemed to be more sweeping than that, and I found it hard to follow the logic all the way through.  In fact, it seemed there were two distinct messages there.

    Thanks again, Charlie,  for making me think more deeply about trust.  It was a pleasure, as always.

    Reply
  2. Charles H. Green
    Charles H. Green says:

    Thanks Bob for the thoughtful comments. Any lack of clarity is on me, to be sure. 

    What I had intended to say (not with full success, obviously) was that lying is usually considered as the telling of a falsehood – a sin of commission, if you will.  We tend to look more lightly on the not-telling of a truth – a sin of omission, if you will. 

    I would argue “sins of omission” are at least as bad, and sometimes worse, than outright lying – for the several reasons I mentioned. Basically, it’s clear what an outright lie is about – but a world of things are left unclear when the truth is merely absent.

    I certainly don’t advocate spewing every irrelevant truth; as you note, there’s an infinity of such things. But if people willfully hold back on what most would consider relevant, that’s quite another matter. 

    That’s what I mean by “tell more truth,” and how I interpret “the whole truth” part of the courtroom oath. It’s also pretty much what we mean by transparency; not blitzing people with small print irrelevancies, but rather being open and honest about all relevant issues.

    Apologies for my lack of clarity on this. 

    Reply

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