How do you declutter the clutter of honesty and diplomacy?

There is one question that is part of every childhood. Irrespective of which era you are born, you will undeniably be faced with this question. Guess which is this question? (If you guessed it right, pat yourself).

‘Do you like Mummy or Daddy?’

And, the answer always precedes with a pause, and then the child usually responds,

‘I love both my Mummy & Daddy’

Honesty & Diplomacy
Honesty & Diplomacy

The child doesn’t want to hurt either of the parents and hence gives the first diplomatic answer of its life. If the child was honest to its heart, we as elders might not be able to take it. Isn’t it? Just when the kid is about to speak, the first moral value that we teach our child is, ‘Honesty is the best policy, and that to lie is a bad thing to do’. At the same time, we also put the child in a fix asking such questions, where the child is unconsciously expected to give a diplomatic answer. The Muddle of life starts at such a tender age.

Diplomacy is typically linked to the business culture and conversations that each of us faces during adulthood. It is a trait of escapist or anyone who doesn’t always hurt either of the parents. Nevertheless, did you ever realize, that the seeds of diplomacy are sown at a very young age? Those seeds germinate into deep-rooted plants and create confusion for life. For instance, sometimes we fail to say what exactly we want in our professional arena. We are unable to be true to our conscience in the process of being diplomatic. While we want to be honest, we always feel, it would impact our image and relationship with our boss and peers.

Not just in the work front, this turmoil of thoughts between diplomacy and honesty also impacts our personal life. It is a known fact that personal relationships, such as marriage, friendships, parent-child relationships, etc., always demand absolute honesty. Yet, we try to be diplomatic and sometimes end up losing relationships. Personal or professional space, we all want to be honest. We all know honesty definitely beats diplomacy to ensure quality. Nonetheless, rarely do our actions speak that.

Speak the Truth

There is a thin line between being honest and being diplomatic. When to be honest and when to be diplomatic needs to be decided wisely and it’s a tough individual’s choice. Once you decide honesty, be ready to face the consequences. If you opt for honesty, it would be tough and frustrating to give and receive diplomatic answers. If you pick diplomacy, you might be stressed with the thought of speaking the truth.  So, you got to choose scenarios when to speak up and when to be diplomatic depending on the severity of the consequences.

Going by my observations, most often, children or adult, we choose diplomacy, because we want to protect ourselves from any type of verbal & non-verbal criticism, and avoid any form of confrontations. Having said that, whether you live a superficial life or a meaningful one depends on whether you are being diplomatic or brutally honest. Just not that, also have the courage to embrace the same in your own life. So which way do you prefer – Honesty or Diplomacy? Or do you know to balance the thin rope between being honest and being diplomatic? Share your thoughts in the comments.


  • Mohan Karthik

    While many philosophies can argue that there is an absolute truth out there, in reality, truth is always a matter of perspective. So with that as a premise, honesty also becomes a matter of perspective. And hence being “honest” in a lot of circumstances means being brave to put your perspective across.

    Diplomacy or “being nice” is needed almost everywhere because
    1. People believe that there is an absolute truth out there
    2. And that the truth that they believe in is that absolute truth
    3. And alternate versions or perspectives cannot be true

    In these circumstances diplomacy can be a great tool to put across your perspective in a slightly roundabout manner, because now you can prep the recipient towards your perspective and perhaps in the process adjust your perspective as well.

  • Shilpa Shreevatsa

    Not always will diplomacy work and neither will honesty work always. It is a mixture of both the ingredients.
    An observation – it is one way to look at how the child is forced to be diplomatic by saying I choose you both parents. And it could be an honest opinion of the child, where the child feels that both are equally important and choosing is not an option at that point.

    Coming to the actual point, honestly, honesty works. But timing matters. If I say, meet a person outside who seems to look a little disheveled than normal. Instead of asking how are you, I will say you look disheveled or sad or so. That person’s mindset will account for the reaction to my statement. Me being honest here can go South or encourage the person to talk about her crisis.
    Had I restored to how are you? question, the “fine” Or an ok as a simple answer would do away with me.
    Circumstances and situations IMO, dictate which road to take.

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