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You’ve probably been there—gotten scammed by someone or done in by a selfish person only looking out for their own interest (to the point of lying to you). We’ve all been there. There’s nothing worse than realizing you’ve been deceived, you were conned, and people are dishonest.
Experiencing dishonesty can provoke a real anger response, and suffering dishonesty by others can be downright humiliating. But is dishonesty simply a way of life in a dog-eat-dog kind of world? Are there still honesty examples out there?
What Is Honesty and Why Is It So Important?
Honesty is when you act, speak, and think in a truthful way. So, to understand honesty, you have to understand the concept of truth. Lies are so easy to swallow sometimes, and the truth may seem to cost you, especially when you have to admit you’ve been wrong or that you are to blame.
In daily life, truth is a guiding principle when you have been raised and instilled with integrity. In the Biblical sense, the truth will set you free. When you are truthful, you will say things exactly as they happened, even if that costs you.
When you have honesty, you will act in a way that is in line with your concept of truth, even if it is difficult or places you at a disadvantage.
I can think of one instance where acting with honesty seemed to cost me, but it also saved me in the end. I had been driving a little faster than I should, and I got pulled over. Instead of making up an excuse, I owned up to having driven too fast, told the officer that I didn’t mean to, but I accepted that I deserved a ticket.
While the officer began writing the speeding ticket, another motorist was stopped for driving well over the legal speed limit. This driver proceeded to tell the officers that he had not been speeding, that there were no speed limit signs, that their equipment was faulty, and that if it wasn’t that… his rental car had a faulty speedometer.
The officer smiled, gave me my ticket, then turned to discuss matters with the argumentative and lying driver. When I looked at my ticket, it said: “Thank you for your honesty—have a nice drive.” There was no fine indicated.
Honesty and Your Moral Compass
My honesty had saved me. Have you ever experienced an instance where your honesty saved you? Being honest allows you to act without shame and keeps you on the right path in life.
Your concept of what’s honest will depend greatly on your moral compass. If you were raised by criminals, chances are you will not have this guiding principle. Luckily, most of us are raised by normal parents, and with some luck, they have raised us with a concept of what’s right and wrong.
Even if your parents weren’t ideal authority figures, we are all taught at school to respect authority and behave appropriately. We are honest, because if we’re not, there are consequences in our society.
Honesty Examples Explained
By looking at examples of honesty in action, we are encouraged, and we understand what it means to be honest in different situations.
Here are a few examples of honesty in work, school, and life, so you can live without stress.
Honesty Examples at Work
“People lie,” Dr Gregory House states repeatedly in the hit TV show House. Nowhere is this perhaps more apparent than at work. In a cut-throat environment, being dishonest can easily become a way of being and doing. Colleagues lie, clients deceive you, and bosses use half-truths to manipulate you. Where does honesty fit into all this?
1. Keeping Your Secret
In the world of work, we often hear secrets or have a colleague listen to you rant about your boss. Honesty comes into play when your colleague doesn’t reveal what you said to them with the aim of getting a promotion or currying favor.
Instead of getting a leg up on you by sharing your secret with the boss, your colleague keeps mum and loses out on an opportunity because to get that promotion would mean betraying you.
2. Authority Figures Owning Flaws
A clear example of honesty is when an authority figure at work owns up to failing or not being correct. Rather than lie and protect their reputation, your boss may own up to having issued a poor decision.
A boss who admits to having acted in their own interest may show honesty by rectifying the situation. Eating their words, the person who acted selfishly may admit to it and take the necessary steps to rectify the situation, even though it may damage their reputation.
3. Returning Extra Office Supplies
It may sound like such a silly matter, but real honesty is about never taking what isn’t yours. It doesn’t have to be your neighbor’s car or house; even taking something as insignificant as a few sheets of paper or a box of office pens can become an act of dishonesty.
Years ago, my colleague resigned from teaching. She was in charge of the section’s stationery. This had placed her in a prime position to take as much stationery and supplies as she wanted. She also had three young kids of her own, so it would have been quite “understandable” if she had snuck out a few pens, reams of paper, or schoolbooks for her own kids.
Yet, when she left, she handed over a complete stock list, including all the current items she had issued herself (including the same pens, stickers, and other stationery items as every other teacher). Despite having more fancy items in stock for the department heads, she only ever allowed herself to use the same stationery as other teachers.
Her honesty was so memorable that people spoke of it, and she was offered a much better position at a private company as their head of stores. Being so honest as to not even take a paperclip, she was rewarded by a much better opportunity and career.
4. Honesty Reaps Rewards
For those who have a low level of schooling, manual labor is often the only means of earning a living. One particular worker at a fruit farm proved that honesty could make a lifelong difference. He had been working at the local farm for two years, and he had shown himself to be a trustworthy worker to the farm owner.
When the manager accused the worker of stealing, the farm owner decided to investigate and not simply take the manager at his word. Surprisingly, the owner found that it was the manager who had been stealing by selling gasoline on the side, and then charging it to the worker’s truck.
As a result of having shown himself to be honest, the farm worker could stand on his character when he was falsely accused. The farm manager was fired, and the owner decided to take a risk by promoting the unschooled laborer to the position of manager.
Honesty proved the worker’s character, and it ended up being more valuable than the best education.
Honesty Examples in School
School can be challenging to your concept of what is morally right. Favoritism, bullying, and status differences can all contribute to challenging your honesty. Stick it out for what’s right, and honesty will be the result.
5. Choosing to Follow Rules
When you are young, you may have an urge to rebel against authority and not want to be told what to do. However, an honest person will do what is required of them according to the rules placed over them.
In school, you may find that those around you are breaking rules just because they want to. While an honest person may also not always like what the rules are, they will still accept these rules as having a purpose.
As a young child, I was taught that rules had to be obeyed. This belief shaped my moral compass, and even today, I don’t like breaking rules. I believe rules serve a purpose, and therefore, I choose to follow them.
My honesty has saved me on more than one occasion from trouble. I think of the time I chose not to follow a school rule, and I ended up in detention for it. If I had followed my belief in honesty and not bunked class, I wouldn’t have been punished.
6. Not Cheating in a Test or Task
Tests are scary, and you may also have found yourself hoping for a miracle to either give you all the answers or even try to wiggle out of a test. Using exam notes hidden on your body during the exams is a great big NO.
I recall the incident years back when the class was writing a test, but one group of students kept asking to use the bathroom. While the teacher couldn’t prove anything out of sorts was going on, the students were cheating on the test.
Finally, a student returned from the bathroom with a notebook filled with the question numbers and answers. The students had been creating their own memorandum of answers in the notebook.
The act of honesty was committed by the single student who brought the cheating notebook to the teacher, thereby exposing the corrupt learners. Despite the student who brought the book to the teacher doing the right thing, the other students had cheated.
Therefore, it takes personal strength to stand against your friends when they don’t want to do what’s right. Choosing not to cheat is a personal decision, and only you can make it.
7. Not Telling on Others
School is one of the places in life where we learn who we are. Often, people try to impress others by gossiping, and if you can learn in school not to fall into this trap, you will develop an honest character.
I recall quite fondly the day a “friend” was busy gossiping about me at school. You may wonder why it was a fond recollection when being gossiped about is so painful. This particular gossip session backfired badly on the girl in question.
While she was busy talking about me (a few minor details with oodles of embellishment), one of the new girls suddenly asked her to keep quiet.
The new girl quietly told her that it’s not right to talk about someone behind their back (even though I was sitting nearby), and that it showed the person doing the gossiping to be unsafe to those around them. “If they can talk with you, they can talk of you,” she said.
The girl then came over and we had lunch together. I made a new friend that day, and we’re still friends today. The gossip girl learned a valuable lesson in honesty that day. Being honest means not lying about others.
8. Perseverance Instead of Taking the Easy Way Out
Tony had been at school with my brother. My brother was an average student, but he always did his homework diligently. Tony had never been very interested in work, but he was quite smart, and he usually managed to ace his tests, even though he never did homework.
When the end of year assessments rolled around, my brother opened his school bag and noticed his essay that he had so neatly typed out was missing. Glancing over, he saw that Tony had handed in a neatly typed essay with the same unique font he had used.
Tony had taken his essay!
However, my brother wasn’t a stirrer, and he quietly went to the teacher and pleaded to hand in the essay later that day as he didn’t have his there. Having never missed a deadline before, the teacher gave him time until that afternoon to complete the essay and hand it in.
My brother decided to rewrite the essay about the exact scenario that had happened. His dishonest friend who handed in work that wasn’t his. The essay was written by hand, had several spelling errors that were hastily corrected and even a juice stain from the cafeteria.
The following day, when the essays were returned, my brother scored his first A+, while Tony failed his assignment. Perseverance and honesty had given my brother a chance to succeed.
Honesty Examples in Life
We should all live an honest life, right? The problem is that most of us struggle to keep sight of what honesty means, especially when life gets difficult. A quick white lie may seem like an easy way to get out of a sticky situation, but it could also lead to more problems. Most often, simply sticking to the truth and making honesty your way of life is the best and straightest way through life’s challenges.
9. Using Your Voice
I learned that being honest can make you friends, but it can also cost you “friends.” People don’t like it when you tell them straight. We’re taught not to say anything unless we say something nice. Being honest means speaking up when it’s right, not only when it’s nice, even if this leads to confrontation.
When I started out my career in teaching, I was somewhat shy and felt quite out of my depth. My boss was a strict man who often acted quite dictatorial in his meetings. People were too scared to speak up and tell him when he was stepping out of line or if he asked for things they couldn’t do.
During one particular meeting, he demanded that the staff perform duties that were really quite impossible. Everyone sat in a disgruntled silence. While we knew better than to say anything during his meeting, none of us felt that what was being asked was fair.
I spoke up for the first time during that meeting. Remaining polite and professional, I told him that I believed it was an unfair request, and I also offered him my support for an alternative idea.
There was a shocked silence, he huffed for a second, then realizing that I had actually made a better suggestion than his initial plan, he asked the staff if they believed this second idea had merit. Heads nodded.
By speaking up, telling the truth, and remaining honest about who I am, I managed to convince a difficult boss to give my idea some thought. Being honest isn’t the same as being rude.
I have used this same approach in most aspects of life since then, and being honest, speaking up when things aren’t right, and acting in line with my belief in the truth have repeatedly helped me steer clear of serious issues.
10. Honest Mistakes
We all make mistakes. Sometimes, we make the most mistakes in our love lives. I had a relationship where I realized about three months into a head-over-heels romance that my partner had only partially separated from his wife. He was still seeing her and me at the same time.
While I hadn’t been the cause of their marital issues, I was now part of it. Being an honest person, I didn’t feel right about it. It felt like I had walked into someone else’s shoes. It just didn’t fit.
The romance was great, but I realized I had fallen in love too hastily. What I had believed to be a real relationship was, in fact, an infatuation that had all the potential to destroy me. Being honest with myself, I realized I had to leave.
I explained to my partner that I didn’t feel the relationship had started on the right footing and that it was better to wait until his matters with his wife were sorted out. He agreed, but he didn’t return my calls for a few days.
I later found out that he had already had several one-nighters, and within a few days of our breakup, he was on his third rebound relationship.
Though I had made an honest mistake, it was my honesty that got me out of a potentially terrible relationship. Clearly, the man I thought I loved wasn’t faithful and would have cheated on me eventually.
11. Meeting Myself
Do you really know who you are? Can you own up to the person you are and accept that person wholly? This is what meeting yourself is all about. Some call it shadow work, where you really dive into the aspects of yourself you don’t know about or try to ignore. Honesty is how you face your coping mechanisms and see which actually help you out.
Recently, I attended a retreat with a meditation master, and we worked on how I saw myself and discovering my inner truth. This is where honesty can make all the difference. Honesty isn’t just something you think, learn, or do. It’s how you are.
Honesty is what got me through years of therapy after an abusive relationship and my own childhood trauma. If you can’t be honest with yourself, how can you expect to live with honesty?
Final Thoughts on Honesty Examples
Honesty is an integral part of your life. You should live with honesty in your work, school, and social life. When you have honesty, you live according to your truth, and you don’t hide behind pleasantries or half-truths just to try and make life easier.
We should teach our children about honesty and how to apply it in their lives too. Can you imagine what the world would be like when all people live with honesty as their guide? If you want to learn more about honesty and how to trust others, consider this great read on affirmations to develop trust.
Finally, if you want a simple way to reduce your stress and anxiety, then try writing these 35 mindfulness journaling prompts to live more in the present moment.