But select capable men from all the people–men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain–and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.
To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.
The greedy bring ruin to their households, but the one who hates bribes will live.
Ephesians 6:12Good News Translation (GNT)
could it be it is not if we are “honest” but How…. that defines which inner wolf we are feeding?
is it that Life is “honesty”? meaning to live or be alive is only because some part of you is “honest”?
For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.
Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way.
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”
are wars about How we are honest?
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
Truth is harder than a lie
The dark seems safer than the light
And everyone has a heart that loves to hide
I’m a mess and so are you
We’ve built walls nobody can get through
Yeah, it may be hard, but the best thing we could ever do, ever do
Bring your brokenness, and I’ll bring mine
‘Cause love can heal what hurt divides
And mercy’s waiting on the other side
If we’re honest
If we’re honest
Don’t pretend to be something that you’re not
Living life afraid of getting caught
There is freedom found when we lay
our secrets down at the cross, at the cross
It would change our lives
It would set us free
It’s what we need to be
is dishonest gain about being cruel…harsh… punishing and scoffing at each other?
does our entightlements in societies orders and class also with property or quasi civil or human rights give us a false sense of “freedom and liberty” to scoff others in critisim and perverse speech?
speak to someone or about something in a scornfully derisive or mocking way.“department officials scoffed at the allegations”
Question: “What does the Bible say about scoffers?”
Answer: The word translated “scoffer” in English can mean “one who mocks, ridicules, or scorns the belief of another.” In Hebrew, the word translated “scoffer” or “mocker” can also mean “ambassador.” So a scoffer is one who not only disagrees with an idea, but he also considers himself an ambassador for the opposing idea. He cannot rest until he has demonstrated the foolishness of any idea not his own. A scoffer voices his disagreement, ridicules all who stand against him, and actively recruits others to join his side. In the Bible, scoffers are those who choose to disbelieve God and His Word. They say in their hearts, “There is no God” (Psalm 14:1), and make it their ambition to ridicule those who follow God.
The Bible has a lot to say about scoffers (Proverbs 19:29; 29:8; Acts 13:41). Proverbs 3:34 says that God “scoffs at the scoffers, yet He gives grace to the afflicted.” Psalm 1:1 gives us clear instruction about how to deal with scoffers: “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers” (NASB). The progression of unbelief begins with listening to ungodly counsel and ends with joining the scoffers. The Bible warns us not to entertain the company of those who actively ridicule our faith, or we risk having that faith destroyed. Proverbs 13:20 says, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (ESV).
We cannot totally escape the presence of scoffers. They were active in Jesus’ day, and we continue to hear from them today. Jesus told His disciples, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you” (John 15:18–19). A Christian should “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks . . . to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15). However, when we cease to be the influencers and start to become the influenced, it is time to “shake the dust off our feet” (Matthew 10:14; Mark 6:11; Luke 10:11).
Second Peter 3:3 warns us that “in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires” (cf. Jude 1:18). We know from Scripture that scoffing will only increase as we near the time for Jesus’ return (2 Timothy 3:1-5). We already see it happening with the blanket acceptance of evolutionary theory that excludes a Creator, the rapid expansion of false religions that deny the deity of Christ, and the numeric explosion of those who identify themselves as agnostics and atheists.
Scoffers have always been and will always be present in the world. But there is coming a promised day when “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10–11). On that day there will no longer be any scoffers. They will at last accept the truth, and their scoffing will be forever silenced.
Do you ever wonder if you should avoid telling the truth to keep from hurting someone’s feelings? Not only is it possible to be comfortably honest with people in situations that require an offensive response, candor is often the kindest and most honorable way to express yourself and help other people avoid the perils of false flattery or mistaken confidence.
Recognize how dishonesty plays itself out within a relationship. Lying to a friend or other person can ruin a relationship, sometimes instantly. Even if dishonest behavior goes undetected for a time, it will white ant your relationship––insincerity and a lack of investment in the well-being of the other person burrows into the subconscious of those at the receiving end, even through the most finely crafted lies and pretense. Dishonest behavior in relationships can include:
- Fawning over someone even though you don’t particularly like them. Sometimes this is to get something you want (such as a promotion, a role, a gift, money, etc.), while other times it is simply because you are too insecure to own up to not liking this person much. While it can be difficult to maintain relations with a person you don’t much get along with, you can agree to respect each other’s differences instead of lying outright.
- Pretending you like something someone has done or made for you/given you/shared with you. For example, you might pretend to like a friend’s rock-hard baking or pretend that your boss’s presentation is fantastic even though it’s a bore. In each case, you have an opportunity to enlighten the person that they need to improve but lying is a way of sidestepping this teaching role. Lying will often cause more of the same behavior and you’ll have to endure more rock solid cakes and boring speeches when you could have compassionately shone a light on making improvements. A no-win for both of you.
- Enabling bad behavior. Although more complex than there is room for discussion here, enabling bad behavior is a form of dishonesty. In letting the alcoholic have “just one more drink”, or the internet-obsessed “just another after-midnight hour online”, etc., you fail to address the root problem and enable the bad behavior. This dishonesty can let problems fester or grow, damaging both the other person and the relationship.
- Brushing someone off. Sometimes dishonesty is as simple as saying “Yes, that looks all right on you”, just because you can’t be bothered or don’t care. This is a failure of paying attention and is insincere because you fail to want the best for the other person, giving your own wants greater attention.
Accept that honesty is about kindness. Is it kind to say yes to someone when you would rather have said no? There is little kindness in having your reluctant or scant attention, your resentful presence around a person when you would have been more comfortable saying no. Is it kind to let someone go forth thinking they’re well prepared or looking good when the exact opposite is true? There is a laziness and unkindness involved in not telling people such things; how can they remedy or learn what needs to be learned if they are not told? Is it a good idea to fail to speak up when something wrong or unlawful is happening in your workplace? It may keep you your job a while longer, but as with the case of a place like Enron, the truth will eventually be out and the ship sinks. When seen in this way, honesty is best understood as kindness, not harshness.
- Honesty is also self-kindness. Lying increases your blood pressure and subjects you to stress. Doing this frequently can reduce the effectiveness of your immune system. Dishonesty can lead you to second-guess your self-worth and justify even more dishonesty. All of this is unnecessary mental and bodily strain; honesty is the easy way to take care of your health. Honest means not having to keep cross-referencing your deception to make sure it all adds up. After all, eventually it won’t.
- If you’re still struggling with the idea of honesty as the best policy, put yourself in the other person’s shoes. How would you feel if someone concealed something important from you, such as slips in your work performance that could be remedied early or your fly being undone/your skirt being stuck in the back of your underpants as you return from the bathroom? It is rare that you would rather not know something awkward, confronting or bad that affects you personally. Sure, the embarrassment or pain at first may be intense but then you can get on to fixing things quickly.
Ask yourself the trilogy of essential questions when deciding on whether your honesty is coming from a place of good intent: Is it true, is it necessary, is it kind? If you can’t answer all of these in the affirmative, then your “honesty” probably has the wrong motivation (such as spite, anger or revenge) and you’ll need to rethink what you intend to communicate, if anything.
- Distinguish between jealousy and honesty. Jealousy is not tactful, caring or considerate of reality. Telling a person that they have no talent or that they’re ugly just because you’re jealous of their achievements or looks is a distortion of reality, not an expression of honesty. Do not confuse the two.
Focus on how you present your honest assessment of any situation. This is the most important part of reducing any sense of harshness––the how of delivery matters. Begin from a position of kindness, of acceptance that it is better to be tactfully honest than to let someone go on believing something that is not true. Be prepared to stick to the objective, identifiable facts and avoid making emotional observations. Act from the goodness of exposing a problem in need of a solution. And be aware that this is a communication skill––as with all skills, it will take time and practice to perfect, with a good dose of humility thrown in.
- Consider the person with whom you must be honest. Don’t be brash or too pointed where the person is usually shy or very sensitive. Take into account their nature when adapting your message. There will be a different approach between telling your best friend something delicate and motivating a slack co-worker with whom you are trying to complete a project.
- If you need to rehearse, do so! It is much better to have gone over what you are going to say to iron out any insensitive or thoughtless comments that might crop up through nervousness or an over-willingness to “set things right”. It won’t make you sound forced; practice will actually help you to work through whether this is the right thing to do, and which words are the right ones to use.
Seek a favorable environment for divulging the truth. Don’t tell the person something potentially hurtful or embarrassing in front of other people––try to speak to them alone as the best option. If you have no choice about telling the other person in the company of others, keep your voice down low and even whisper if you have to. People will be able to take your honesty better if they’re not under social pressure.
- Face-to-face is best; it lets the other person read your body language and helps them put your words into emotional perspective. Words spoken over the phone or written can be all too easily distorted, to make a negative meaning where none was intended.
- Avoid using distractions as a solution. While a cup of tea or going for a walk outdoors may be a nice segue into a heart-to-heart, and a form of consoling a person, don’t allow this to turn into a distraction from what needs to be said. Stay focused on the purpose of delivering your message of honesty.
Recognize some potential situations where honesty is necessary, and where a “white lie” might not be reasonable. There are some standard topics that can come up in the course of your relationships and it is a good idea to know in advance how you’ll avoid the reflex action of bland and evasive responses! Just a few to get you thinking:
- The “Am I fat?” question. This one often occurs in the fitting rooms or when dressing to go out. If your friend or spouse is being self-conscious, then reinforce his or her confidence. Don’t say “You’re not that fat”, as this comes off as sarcasticor insincere––and it may well be untrue. Rather, use a comparative note. Consider something like, “You’re healthy and beautiful. I love how you wear green––it brings out the color in your eyes. However, that outfit isn’t showing you off to your best advantage––what about wearing a shirt with sleeves instead?” It is also a good idea to be proactive and help your friend to find something that really suits him or her, rather than trying to squeeze into something clearly not suitable for his or her body shape.
- The “Am I ugly?” question. Remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and is subjective. Everyone has different areas of beauty; it’s important to stress these areas. Your friend might not have the most beautiful body, but he or she may have gorgeous eyes, or a smile that stops traffic. Make this clear to your friend or significant other! Never tell a person that they are ugly––if you do this, you arealways being dishonest because you have failed to appreciate that person for who they really are.
- Your friend wants to break up with his or her significant other. It’s important to express your opinion, but only if it’s relevant and always couched in terms of your own experience, not trying to substitute your feelings for facts. If you simply do notlike your friend’s boyfriend, then don’t use that as an excuse to persuade your friend to end the relationship. If your friend’s boyfriend is abusive, then convince your friend to break up because she might get hurt. You could also help your friend to get support from counselors, etc.
- Appalling work performance. If you can catch bad work from a co-worker before the boss does, you may just be able to intervene in time to help fix the issues; perhaps the person is under lots of stress, perhaps they did not understand the work task, perhaps they need more time. Your lack of judgment about the reasons and your honesty about their slack efforts (including perhaps a willingness to help train them) may just save them their job.
Give advice constructively. When expressing an opinion that may conflict with that of the other person, particularly if it is about some work that they have produced, focus on the positive aspects of a recommendation, and avoid phrasing it as a mandate. Rather than saying “I don’t like it because…” or “You should do this instead…”, try something like “I think it would help to…”. It is also best to mention any positive remarks you may have about the subject before giving advice. This way, the person is less likely to perceive it as an affront on their abilities and is more likely to consider following your advice.
- Always notice the good with the bad. This makes it clear that you see the whole and that you respect the person’s abilities and think that they can do or be better with more effort.
Be as specific as possible. Your friend is likely to read more into what you’re saying, because they’ll (sometimes subconsciously) wonder what you left unsaid. So be as exact as possible in telling them what they need to know. It is a good idea also to think about what else they might read into your statement and proactively tell them there is nothing more to it than you have stated. This has the advantage of introducing positive emotions into your statement, which softens the impact.
- While you should stick to the objective facts when describing the behavior or issue in question, this is not to say that you abandon emotion. Showing the person’s plight moves you or concerns you is appropriate––they’re much more likely to connect with you as a result and realize that you’re on their side. Again, all things in balance––don’t be melodramatic. Show warmth and empathy.
- In short, don’t be rude. There are other ways to inform someone of something without directly hurting his or her feelings.
- Remember—–take note of the person with whom you want to be honest, and adjust your tone accordingly. That is, don’t be over-the-top with a quiet and shy person.
- Simply knowing something to be “scientifically” or “religiously” proven does not give a free pass to be forceful or rude when trying to enlighten another person to the facts you think you know or beliefs you hold. You still have a responsibility to respect the dignity of the other person and to avoid suggestions of ignorance, stupidity, or eternal damnation. Honesty without being harsh means acknowledging the other person has reasons for resisting your “truths” and it behooves you to find the pathway to opening their mind to your view by being polite, sensitive, and respectful.
- Ideally, “wrap” a negative statement with two positive ones.
- It’s easier to hear the truth from a friend than from an acquaintance or stranger. If you aren’t particularly close to a person with whom you would like to be honest, but you still want to convey your message, then ask someone who is close to that person. For example, you might tell this person’s close friend that he or she has bad breath, rather than telling the person yourself. Be careful not to gossip about someone’s perceived shortcomings, though.
- Name calling tells other people that you are frustrated; it does not amount to honesty.
- Be aware that for some people, “taking offense” is a means of manipulating others. For such people, who claim to be “outraged” at almost anything that they don’t like or feel uncomfortable with, there is always a risk that honesty will bring out a backlash. Sometimes, you may need to be prepared to weather the whining but provided you have been truthful, kind and you have objectively assessed the need for the truth to be told, then don’t feel you need to back down or retract what you’ve said. Honesty is not to be cowered into submission by people who do not like what they hear and respond with threats of suing or blogging.
- Some people confuse nastiness with honesty. This happens where a person decides that he or she has a mandate to correct the ways of another person and says nasty, undermining things constantly, then excuses the nastiness by saying things like: “It’s for your own good” or “I only want the best for you.” Appointing yourself as the judge and jury of another person’s way of living or being is not about honesty but about enforcing your preferences over someone else who has less power than you (such as a parent over a child, a teacher over a student, a boss over a subordinate, etc.). Honest guidance is kindly and respectful of the other person, no matter their age, and does not seek to abuse the other person into submission.
- While excessive white lies are counterproductive, remember that some things are just better left unsaid. That which you have not said doesn’t need to be taken back.
Why We Give Criticism
I think it’s important to step back and look at why people give criticism. There are a few common reasons (although there are many more possible reasons):
- To help someone improve. Sometimes criticism is actual honest feedback, meant to help the person we’re criticizing. We want to help them get better.
- To see a change that we would like. If we regularly read a magazine or blog, for example, there might be something that often bothers us that we’d like to see changed. Perhaps the person uses too many list headlines, or has too many spelling and grammatical errors. So criticism is meant to help get that change enacted.
- To further the discussion. Criticism can be a way to get a good, intelligent discussion about something going, to take it to a new level, to explore new areas of the discussion, to give an opposing viewpoint, to impart new knowledge.
- To hurt someone. Often we just don’t like someone, and want to get at them, attack them. Criticism in this case is destructive.
- To vent our frustrations. Sometimes we are just frustrated with something, or are having a bad day, and need to vent that negative anger.
- To boost our ego. Some people like to show how powerful or intelligent or knowledgeable they are, and use criticism as a way of doing that. They are puffing themselves up, challenging others, doing an Alpha Male thing.
Before you offer criticism, consider your reasons. If your reason is one of the first three, then this article is for you. If it’s one of the second three reasons, you won’t get anything out of this article. If that’s the case, I suggest you stop yourself and think long and hard about why you feel the need to do that.
Using criticism to help someone improve, to see a change affected, or to contribute to a discussion, are all good reasons for doing it. Now the question is, how to do it kindly, without attacking, so that your purposes are accomplished.
Why Criticism Hurts or Angers
People don’t often take criticism well, even if it’s done for good reasons (one of the first three reasons above, for example). But why? Why can’t they just simply see it as a way to improve?
Well, there are many reasons, of course, but here are just a few:
- The criticism is mean-spirited. If you use insulting or degrading language, or put down the person in any way, they will focus on that, and not on the rest of the criticism.
- It focuses on the person. If you focus on the person (“You’re a lousy writer”) instead of their actions, you will make them angry or defensive or hurt.
- They assume you’re attacking them. Even if you focus on actions, many people take all criticism as an attack on themselves. No matter what your intention or language. They can’t take criticism in a detached, non-personal way. You can’t change that about them, other than pointing them to last week’s article (which will also probably be taken as an attack).
- They assume they’re right. Many people assume what they say or do is right, and that the criticism is wrong. They don’t like to hear that they’re wrong, whether it’s true or not.
Now, there are other reasons, but I wanted to point out a few of the most common. You cannot change some of these things about the person receiving the criticism. You can try, but your success rate probably won’t be very great.
However, you can change your actions — how you communicate the criticism. Or whether you criticize at all.
How to Deliver Criticism Kindly (and Not Criticize At All)
Looking at the above reasons that criticism isn’t taken well, the keys are:
- Don’t attack attack, insult, or be mean in any way
- Talk about actions or things, not the person.
- Don’t tell the person he’s wrong.
- Don’t criticize at all.
But … what about giving kind criticism? How do you help someone improve, see the changes you want, or contribute to a meaningful discussion?
By offering a specific, positive suggestion instead.
So instead of criticizing, which is rarely taken well, offer a specific, positive suggestion. Let’s take a look at the elements of this method, why it works, and how to do it:
- Suggestion, not criticism. As people sometimes will assume that you’re attacking them personally, no matter how nice your criticism and how much you focus on actions, a criticism is often not the way to go if you want 1) for them to improve; 2) to see actual change; or 3) to contribute to a meaningful discussion. Instead, suggest a change. A suggestion can be positive, it can be seen as helpful, it can be seen as an instrument for improvement and change. People often take suggestions well (but not always). So a suggestion is more useful than a criticism in many cases. Not always — sometimes it can be useful to give a nice criticism if someone is open to it. But in many cases, a suggestion is better.
- Positive. Much criticism is negative. That hurts the discussion, because things can take an ugly turn from there. It hurts the person receiving it, making it less likely that they’ll take it as a way to change. Instead, be positive: “I’d love it if …” or “I think you’d do a great job with …” or “One thing that could make this blog even better is …”. And don’t do it in a sarcastic way … be genuinely positive. This keeps the discussion positive, and people are more likely to receive it in a positive way.
- Specific. It’s easy to give vague criticism: “You’re a sucky writer,” “I can’t stand this blog,” or “You really should write better posts … this one is lame.” Anyone can do that. Being specific is more difficult: “I don’t like to see numbers in your headlines all the time,” “The first two paragraphs of your posts are long and rambling,” or “Your face is lumpy.” It’s harder still to make a specific, positive suggestion: “I’d love to see more images of kittens on Zen Habits,” or “Make my day and write a post about how to criticize your boss without him knowing you’re doing it,” or “I would appreciate fewer ads and more content.”
- Be kind. It’s important that you be gentle and kind in your suggestions. People have a hard time accepting any criticism, gentle or not, but if it’s harsh, it’ll almost always have bad consequences. Instead, ask yourself, “Would I like to hear that about myself?” And: “If so, what would be the nicest way to say it?”
- Relate to actions. Never criticize the person. Always criticize the actions. And when you’re making suggestions, make suggestions about actions, not about the person. Not: “Maybe you could become a less lumpy person?” Better: “I suggest you get face smoothener … it did wonders for me!”
For, “ALL FLESH IS LIKE GRASS, AND ALL ITS GLORY LIKE THE FLOWER OF GRASS. THE GRASS WITHERS, AND THE FLOWER FALLS OFF, BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ENDURES FOREVER ” And this is the word which was preached to you.