White Lie (noun): a harmless or trivial lie, especially one told to avoid hurting someone's feelings.
I have recently been pondering if there is any such thing as a trivial lie. Whether it is a white lie or one of omission. The contemplation has two fuel sources in my life right now: a book I am reading, The Speed of Trust by Stephen M.R. Covey, and an end to my recent relationship.
The book is all about how being a high trust person and having high trust relationships makes everything easier. The concept seems obvious, but when you dive into the details presented by Mr. Covey, you cannot deny that there is a real-world impact in terms of time and energy, arguably an individual’s most in demand resources.
The book has also provided a framework for reflection on my relationships over the years. To look at the four parts of “self-trust” outlined in the book: integrity, intent, capabilities, and results. I think my biggest opportunity of those four is intent: I am guilty of keeping my own counsel too often. While I have plans, goals, and direction, I do not regularly share them.
The book also outlines 13 behaviors for trust in relationships, and here I find missed opportunities to improve on in the future. Namely: talking straight (avoiding the white lie), create transparency (state my intent / avoid the accidental lie by omission), and clarify expectations (am I ever on the same page?).
Thankfully, I am better at trust behaviors in professional relationships and friendships than I am in my romantic relationships, so I know what I must do and even how to do it. The challenge is to get over the bad habits I have developed.
Bringing it back to the beginning, I think the first step is to avoid the harmless or trivial lies, especially those told to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. Instead, I need to embrace the touch conversations; done correctly, the long-term benefits will easily outweigh the hurt feelings of today.