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08.2007 The Bottom Line on Integrity


The Bottom Line on Integrity

This book is a newer version/rewrite of my favorite book:

Is Lying Sometimes the Right Thing for an Honest Person to Do?: How Self-Interest and the Competitive Business World Distort Our Moral Values and What We Should Do About It

By Quinn McKay

Long-time motivational speaker and corporate consultant Quinn McKay, has distilled his lifetime investigation of business integrity into a single volume. McKay offers business people twelve keys to both help them recognize situations where they must protect their integrity, and also solve the dilemma many of us encounter when our personal ethics and business ethics conflict. McKay’s conversational style makes this a thorough, thought-provoking read. With case studies, examples, and questions that examine common business practices, it’s a perfect tool for generating discussion and is a must read office manual. Some of these keys include: Rise above the prattle of preachy platitudes that feed self deception Be alert to incremental morality Recognize pressure is a major determinant of honesty Realize everyone lives by 2 different ethical standards Allow that lying is sometimes the right thing to do Acknowledge the conflict of living the golden rule in a competitive world Learn the law of obligation Quinn McKay is a former professor at Brigham Young University and is a frequent motivational speaker. He lives in Utah with his family.

{ 79 comments… add one }

  • Oregonian August 1, 2007, 4:55 pm

    I’m going to start reading today. Who’s joining me?

  • partone August 1, 2007, 6:28 pm

    I got the book too.

  • Alison Moore Smith August 2, 2007, 11:27 am

    I’m in.

  • heather August 3, 2007, 12:31 am

    ummm… just give me a few more days and I’ll be on board. I’m almost done with my other book. I’m also in another book club and just trying to read that book too. Haven’t even toyed with my boy Harry Potter yet. Probally won’t for a while!!! It’s been hard to read and juggle my little ones. How do you ladies fit in all the reading and blogging and tend to little ones and home and community??? I know, I know, I’m always asking these kind of questions. I’m hoping things slow down for me soon. Did I mention that I was asked to be the next PTA president in my town? I have two callings, Family reunions are killing me! I just want to read darn it! :angry::devil:

  • Alison Moore Smith August 3, 2007, 9:14 am

    Posted By: heatherDid I mention that I was asked to be the next PTA president in my town?

    My condolences are coming on strong! :bigsmile:

  • mlinford August 3, 2007, 2:47 pm

    How do you ladies fit in all the reading and blogging and tend to little ones and home and community???

    I don’t get to bed when I should. :)

  • facethemusic August 3, 2007, 6:22 pm

    Yay!!! My book came in the mail today!! I ordered it over a week ago and was beginning to worry. It’ will probably take me awhile to catch up to you ladies… I only get to read every other evening or so right before bed. But I’m anxious to dive in!

  • mlinford August 3, 2007, 10:02 pm

    Ha. I was thinking I keep forgetting to get to the library to check this out. And, lo and behold, my book arrived today! I guess I’m ahead of myself, and I don’t even know it.

    I scare myself sometimes.

  • Alison Moore Smith August 4, 2007, 8:43 am

    I’m so excited to have so many joining us this month. You won’t be sorry.

  • facethemusic August 4, 2007, 1:43 pm

    Okay– so I started reading during the 35 minutes I had to wait for my Nice & Easy hair color #123 to start working it’s magic :) and I must admit, my initial reaction was disappointment
    when I realized almost immediately that the book was written for businesses.
    But I thought– “oh well, you already spent the money and the principles of integrity apply to anything…I just hope the book isn’t filled with business/corporate jargon that I’m not familiar with.” …So far, so good.
    I’m currently on page 17, and have found already, that Bro. McKay thinks very much as I do. (I imagine that most LDS members already have a higher understanding of integrity than the average Joe– at least, they SHOULD have a higher and deeper understanding.)
    I mentioned in the Our Title of Liberty thread that passionate sincerity doesn’t necessarily equal truth.

    Bro. McKay in this section is saying the same thing:

    “Can we be truly sincere in what we say and still convery a falsehood? If we say, ‘The world is flat,’ and we really believe it, does sincerity make the statement true? Isn’t the statement still false—a lie? So enthusiastic believers must always search tehir own consciences if they really want to merit the label “an honest person.”

    The only thing is– I differ with him on one aspect of this. I DO understand what he’s saying, and maybe he didn’t mean it the way he said it (ironic, considering the subject matter) but to me, there’s a difference between telling a “lie” and communicating erroneous information. The word “lie” to me, implies intent to deceive. If when Christopher Columbus first approached Ferdinand and Isabella and told them of his quest, one of them said to him “You’re crazy, Chris. The world is flat” , and they said it in ignorance, truly and sincerely believing that it WAS flat, then they weren’t “lying” to him. They weren’t telling a “lie”, they were just “mistaken” by ignorance.
    Thoughts?

  • facethemusic August 4, 2007, 1:48 pm

    Oh, additional thought–
    When he mentioned that sometimes there ARE times when it’s okay to lie, I immediately thought of Dr. Laura’s explanation of this concept, with which I happen to agree. She said that if she were a “gentile” in Nazi Germany and was hiding Jews in her home, and a Nazi soldier came to her door and asked if she was hiding any Jews or knew their whereabouts– she would say “no”, without a second thought or a worry about being “dishonest”.

  • Alison Moore Smith August 4, 2007, 5:33 pm

    Tracy, if you look back at the initial thread on this, you’ll see that the original title of this book was Is Lying Sometimes the Right Thing for an Honest Person to Do?: How Self-Interest and the Competitive Business World Distort Our Moral Values and What We Should Do About It.

    The focus of the older book isn’t on business (I haven’t read the new version yet), it is that in our culture we have TWO sets of ethics that we GENERALLY ACCEPT. One is business ethics and one is other ethics. He discusses that problem and it’s effect on our entire perception of honesty and what makes an honest person.

    One thing he brought up in his class was that when he teaches ethics in a corporate setting or CEO training setting, the vast majority of attendees consider themselves “honest people”–UNTIL they take the course. Then, they aren’t so sure.

    The same thing happened in the NON-business setting of Education Week.

    FWIW, an LDS recording artist who teaches a HUGE class at EW went to this class as well. He loved it so much that he promoted it in his own class as “the best EW class ever given.” He was spot on. He sat right behind me and I couldn’t help but giggle every time I thought about the irony of this good man attending this class. His name was Michael Ballam–which cryptically might be funny to some of you, too.

  • facethemusic August 4, 2007, 9:39 pm

    His name was Michael Ballam–which cryptically might be funny to some of you, too.

    That is kind of funny– the portrayer of “the father of lies” taki g a course on honesty.

    Funny too that you bring up an LDS artist, because it wasn’t too long ago that I was at a fireside gien by another LDS artist/songwriter- one of THE most recognized names in LDS music and songwriting. This person talked a little before each song- doing a little doctrinal teaching on the song’s subject matter before beginning to sing, and often telling the personal experience that inspired them to write about the subject and put it to music.
    The problem though, is that being a songwriter myself, I’m able to recognize this person’s style of writing. (Songwriter’s, like poets and other writers often have a “voice”- a style that is typical to them, and that certain “something” runs through almost all their work, making it easily detectable as THAT particular person’s song, even if you’ve never heard it before.)
    Also, I’m very well versed in non-LDS Christian Contemporary music. So when this person started singing certain songs, I could TELL that he didn’t author it himself, even though I’d never heard the song before. Other songs, I recognized because I’d heard them before, sung BY the actual songwriter. Only, when discussing the doctrine behind these songs before playing and singing them, this LDS artist did NOT say so or give credit, when the song was written by someone else.
    So all around me, I could hear people whispering, and they thought that the LDS artist had written the songs. This person was frequently talking about their own songwriting, talking about what happened in their life to inspire a song that WAS their own work, but didn’t give credit to the songwriter when a song was NOT his original work. So the impression was, that he authored ALL of the songs, even though he never said that. And the funny thing was, that all the songs that I either knew or suspected were NOT his original work, were my favorites, and the favorites of everyone I spoke to afterwards.
    The next day, I went and purchased this person’s CD, and sure enough, the credits proved that I was right. Every single song that I suspected was NOT his original work, WAS written by someone else, but he never acknowleded that during the fireside.
    That’s NOT to suggest that he was intentionally trying deceive everyone at his fireside. I seriously doubt that he was purposely trying to get credit for others’ work. But because he kept refering to his own songwriting, and never gave credit to anyone but himself, the impression was that he was the writer of ALL the music he performed that night, even though he wasn’t.

  • Oregonian August 6, 2007, 12:41 pm

    I don’t have time to post my thoughts until tonight. Just wanted to say that I LOVE this book. It is so thought-provoking. I wish we always read books like this. We’re a community of geniuses!

  • Alison Moore Smith August 8, 2007, 2:45 pm

    I’ve been reading this and have a question I’d like to ask:

    Where does honesty really rank in your list of important principles? Would you:

    Tell a robber where you kids were hiding?

    Tell the bride that her dress makes her look fat at the wedding?

    Tell the boss that your co-worker and friend is utterly incompetent?

    Tell your Young Woman class that you were unsure of some doctrine being taught?

  • jennycherie August 8, 2007, 3:01 pm

    Posted By: Alison Moore Smith
    Where does honesty really rank in your list of important principles? Would you:
    Tell a robber where you kids were hiding?
    Tell the bride that her dress makes her look fat at the wedding?
    Tell the boss that your co-worker and friend is utterly incompetent?
    Tell your Young Woman class that you were unsure of some doctrine being taught?

    Well, I don’t think that honesty overrules common sense or compassion. No, I would not tell any crook where my kids were. I would never tell anyone that their dress made them look fat. What would be the point? Destroy their confidence and joy? I would say instead that she is radiant and I am thrilled for her good fortune (assuming that she is and I am). Tell the boss? well, only with good reason. I don’t see a lot of value in tattling for the sake of tattling. But when it is important or necessary, incompetence on the job is incompetence. Hopefully, I would have done something first to help my friend improve her level of competence. And telling young women ?? I”m pretty sure I’ve done that before. I am so afraid of teaching false doctrine that I would much rather say I don’t know or I’m not sure or ask for another expert in the room to answer the question!

  • Alison Moore Smith August 8, 2007, 3:19 pm

    Let me clarify the last one. I don’t mean telling the you are unsure about what CONSTITUTES doctrine, I mean if you don’t have a testimony of it, or don’t live it fully, or struggle with it. How much of the truth do you disclose?

    Posted By: jennycherieWell, I don’t think that honesty overrules common sense or compassion.

    That is a GREAT statement for this discussion! How often do common sense and compassion override honesty? And should they?

    Posted By: jennycherieI don’t see a lot of value in tattling for the sake of tattling.

    What about tattling for the sake of honesty?

    You are at a street corner returning from lunch. As you cross, suddenly you find your boss walking by your side. He says, “Jenny, I want your honest opinion. Is Bill really competent as a manager?”

    Bill and his wife are your very close friends. You socialize as well as work together. Bill’s wife is diabetic and they NEED insurance. They also have struggled financially and are just getting back on their feet. Their only source of income is Bill’s job. They have four young kids.

    Bill really isn’t very good at his job.

    What do you say?

  • SilverRain August 8, 2007, 4:46 pm

    I would say “Well, he could really use some coaching in ________.”

    For the YW question, I would by all means share if you are struggling with something. Just make sure you also share what you are doing to resolve that struggle.

  • Alison Moore Smith August 8, 2007, 5:28 pm

    Posted By: SilverRainI would say “Well, he could really use some coaching in ________.”

    There are two thoughts that come from this response.

    (1) Is THAT really honest? If he’s not competent and you sugar-coat it or downplay it, you’re STILL giving a false impression.

    (2) Saying ANYTHING except, “Yes, he’s a great worker” (or something with similar meaning) will probably put your friend’s job in jeopardy…because your boss probably isn’t an idiot.

    If you buy a dress that looks horrible and you ask, “Does this look good on me?” and your friend says, “Oh, I think that is a really pretty shade of pink.” or “I like the cut of the sleeve.” are ANY of us fooled into thinking she really likes it?

    In other words, “answering” the question in an evasive way that allows us to tell the truth (kind of) STILL tells a great deal of what we are pretending NOT to tell. So we still give a false impression (lie), but we ruin the situation anyway.

    For the YW question, I would by all means share if you are struggling with something. Just make sure you also share what you are doing to resolve that struggle.

    OK, so how many of you are bugged about polygamy? And how many of you have told the YW exactly how you feel? If you’ve taught in YW for any length of time and your girls are even remotely aware of church history, they are going to ask questions about it. I can’t even tell you how many times they’ve asked me.

    Truth is, when they ask I absolutely do NOT tell them exactly how I feel. I think it would be wrong to do so. I have no right to force them to carry my burdens, my doubts, or my confusion. For the same reason I don’t think Relief Society or Gospel Doctrine are the place to discuss controversial subjects. Even when they might naturally come up. Does every investigator and every less mature member need to deal with every historical issues that’s in the bloggernacle? Even though it’s truth?

  • jennycherie August 8, 2007, 6:15 pm

    Posted By: Alison Moore SmithWhat about tattling for the sake of honesty?

    You are at a street corner returning from lunch. As you cross, suddenly you find your boss walking by your side. He says, “Jenny, I want your honest opinion. Is Bill really competent as a manager?”

    Bill and his wife are your very close friends. You socialize as well as work together. Bill’s wife is diabetic and they NEED insurance. They also have struggled financially and are just getting back on their feet. Their only source of income is Bill’s job. They have four young kids.

    Bill really isn’t very good at his job.

    What do you say?

    that’s a toughy and I’m not sure I know. I don’t know how you cold avoid the truth in that situation but if you were really cornered, why not say, “I feel uncomfortable with that question. If I give the wrong answer will it affect Bill negatively? If you are the boss, shouldn’t you be the one evaluating his competence? ” Then again, is trying to protect Bill in this way even valuable? Maybe he is just in the wrong job and needs a push to find something that suits him better?

  • jennycherie August 8, 2007, 6:17 pm

    Posted By: Alison Moore SmithTruth is, when they ask I absolutely do NOT tell them exactly how I feel. I think it would be wrong to do so. I have no right to force them to carry my burdens, my doubts, or my confusion. For the same reason I don’t think Relief Society or Gospel Doctrine are the place to discuss controversial subjects.

    I completely agree with you here, Allison. Although, I have heard leaders say, “this is an issue I have to accept on faith. I will understand it later. I have a testimony of the gospel and so it must be okay when Heavenly Father says it is” and that seemed fine to me too.

  • Alison Moore Smith August 8, 2007, 6:29 pm

    Posted By: jennycherieI don’t know how you cold avoid the truth in that situation

    Sure you could, you could lie.

    but if you were really cornered, why not say, “I feel uncomfortable with that question.

    And thereby you impugn your friend. You don’t need to say anything more, ANY evasive answer WILL answer negatively.

    Then again, is trying to protect Bill in this way even valuable?

    It probably is to Bill.

    Maybe he is just in the wrong job and needs a push to find something that suits him better?

    And are YOU the one to decide this? Are YOU the one to give him the push?

    What about principles like compassion, empathy, love, loyalty? Are they all subordinate to honesty?

    If you’re wondering, I don’t have an answer for my questions. There really aren’t many perfect answers. But having been through the author’s classes, I can tell you the kind of things he asked us.

  • Alison Moore Smith August 8, 2007, 6:32 pm

    Posted By: jennycherieAlthough, I have heard leaders say, “this is an issue I have to accept on faith. I will understand it later. I have a testimony of the gospel and so it must be okay when Heavenly Father says it is” and that seemed fine to me too.

    Yes, fine. But it might not be true. And it might, again, give a false impression.

  • jennycherie August 8, 2007, 6:33 pm

    Posted By: Alison Moore SmithIf you buy a dress that looks horrible and you ask, “Does this look good on me?” and your friend says, “Oh, I think that is a really pretty shade of pink.” or “I like the cut of the sleeve.” are ANY of us fooled into thinking she really likes it?

    In other words, “answering” the question in an evasive way that allows us to tell the truth (kind of) STILL tells a great deal of what we are pretending NOT to tell. So we still give a false impression (lie), but we ruin the situation anyway.

    well, yes, a diplomatic answer is often too obvious. Of course, if I ask my friends this kind of question, I WANT their brutal honesty or I wouldn’t ask. I’d so much rather my friend say, “that wasn’t such a great choice” than to look like a dork all day! For those of you (okay, there probably aren’t any here!) who watch American Idol, that is exactly the feedback Paula Abdul gives to contestants. They finish singing and she’ll say, “oh you’re so pretty” or “you look great!”. . . of course I’ve never been 100% certain if this is because she doesn’t have the guts to say “you’re a rotten singer” or if it’s because she just doesn’t know enough about singing to give a real critique. okay, now that I’ve thoroughly embarrassed myself by admitting I watch American Idol. . . I think I’ll go get ready for work.:shamed:

  • mlinford August 8, 2007, 7:21 pm

    This ties into my post on Harry Potter and faith, from Pres. Packer:

    “I have come to believe that it is the tendency for many members of the Church who spend a great deal of time in academic research to begin to judge the Church, its doctrine, organization, and leadership, present and past, by the principles of their own profession…. In my mind it ought to be the other way around….”

    “Your objective should be that they will see the hand of the Lord in every hour and every moment of the Church from its beginning till now….there is no such thing as an accurate or objective history of the Church which ignores the Spirit…. Church history can be so interesting and so inspiring as to be a very powerful tool indeed for building faith. If not properly written or properly taught, it may be a faith destroyer…”

    “Some things that are true are not very useful.” (Brigham Young University Studies, Summer 1981, pp. 259, 262-271)

    Just because something may be “true” (e.g., you are struggling with a doctrinal issue) doesn’t mean it’s useful or necessary to say anything about it. Honestly doesn’t always mean sharing everything you are thinking or feeling. IMO.

  • agardner August 8, 2007, 8:46 pm

    jennycherie, I watch American Idol too!

    I haven’t started this book, but this discussion is really intriguing me. I’m thinking I might start!

  • Alison Moore Smith August 8, 2007, 9:14 pm

    jenny, you have me laughing!

    Posted By: mlinfordHonestly doesn’t always mean sharing everything you are thinking or feeling. IMO.

    True, but that’s not really what I’m talking about. I’m not talking about getting up in front of the YW and telling them about my sex life in the name of “truth.” I’m talking about responding to direct questions in an “faithful” or “faith promoting” but untrue way. I’m talking about intentionally creating a false impression in order to, for example, protect the testimonies of young and impressionable kids.

    Packer is a great example of this, actually, because of his promoting of telling a”faithful history” of the church instead of a factually accurate one.

    Come on, I grew up in Utah before the information accessibility of the internet. I went to church every week. I graduate from seminary. I graduated from BYU. I DID NOT KNOW that Joseph Smith was a polygamist until I was in my late 20’s, had three kids and moved to Florida and read Mormon Enigma. I was absolutely floored. Don’t tell me it was a coincidence that that never came up!

    Look at the bios in the RS/P manuals. They contain all sorts of peripheral information, like odd jobs prophets had. But none, not even Brigham Young’s, identifies polygamy. If they list multiple wives, it looks as if they were not married to the prophet at the same time. Most wives aren’t listed at all. Was this just coincidence? Or were the bios specifically written in order to avoid the issue altogether?

    FWIW, I wrote to the curriculum department about it when they asked for feedback on the manuals. I got a nice response that completely, totally ignored my questions about it.

    I don’t think it’s reasonable to deny that these situations intentionally gave a false impression. So, was it wrong to do so?

    You’ll note that one of McKay’s first objectives (and probably his main objective throughout the book) is to get us to stop PRETENDING that we are really all that honest. He wants us to acknowledge that there are innumerable instances where we LIE and that, as his first title says, it actually might be “the right thing” to do.

    If we can’t admit that we give false impressions often, then we won’t ever MANAGE the dishonesty appropriately. I have a great quote to bring up, but my book is upstairs. I’ll try to post it later.

  • Alison Moore Smith August 8, 2007, 9:21 pm

    agardner, YES, you should read it!!! And that’s the truth!

    OK, Jenny. Last year my daughter dragged me upstairs to watch the LAST episode of AI. I saw that 30ish guy with totally gray hair win. I was so mad that they spent three hours or something dragging that out that I swore I was done. I haven’t watched a show since Early Edition was on (about a decade ago, I think?).

    Well, this past season I DID watch it. we DVRed it to avoid the commercials. I wanted Jordin to win from about ten weeks out. I really liked Melinda, too. Best voice, but not the best overall package. We all watched together and had great fun.

    Of course, we were in Hawaii during the last episode AND the power went out. So we actually missed the finale. That’ll teach me.

  • agardner August 8, 2007, 9:24 pm

    Alison, your most recent post has brought up a whole can of worms for me. I don’t want to say too much, but there are certain tenents of the gospel that I have struggled with as well. One of the things I struggled with the most, happened while I was serving as Primary president. And lo and behold, right around the time I had all these questions and doubts swirling in my mind, I was supposed to give a sharing time on that very topic!

    I did feel really disingenuous. As I tried to prepare for it, I kept thinking – do I really believe this? Should I continue to teach this when I’m not sure it’s true?

    In the end, I couldn’t do it. I skipped the topic altogether on the guise that we needed to work on reverence and I was going to do a special sharing time on it. I usually am a very by-the-book person, but this time I just couldn’t get up in front of those kids and teach this unless I believed it. Probably the best thing to do would be to swap weeks with someone else in the presidency, but I guess I just didn’t think of that at the time.

    BTW, Mormon Enigma was a shocker to me as well. I bought it at Deseret Book so I thought of course it would support what I’d always been told. I would just say that I found it to be an excellent book, and very enlightening, but no one should read it unless they are prepared to face that part of their testimony (the Joseph Smith/polygamy part)

  • Alison Moore Smith August 8, 2007, 9:50 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your personal story.

    Posted By: agardnerbut no one should read it unless they are prepared to face that part of their testimony (the Joseph Smith/polygamy part)

    OH, amen to that!

  • SilverRain August 9, 2007, 4:58 am

    I don’t think saying “He needs coaching” is evasive. Having just left a damaging job situation and gone into a more professional one, this particular item of discussion I have recently practiced. “He needs coaching” is a mature way to deal with a person who may not be the best fit for the job, but who can potentially change to improve themselves. Of course, if you start adding qualifiers such as “the person who is asking is going to see anything but a glowing report as negative,” the situation changes. If the person asking the question is immature enough to not realize how to truly “boss,” how to truly manage his people, than saying “he needs coaching” isn’t truly honest because you know the person asking the question will hear something else. Communication is about more than what you say, it’s also about what the other person hears. Sometimes you have to adapt what you say to communicate what you mean. That’s why it can often be embarrassing when someone overhears a conversation you are having with someone else; they can get the wrong impression about what you feel or think. People often think that eavesdropping reveals what the person “truly thinks,” but that isn’t necessarily the truth.

    For example, I would bear my testimony about polygamy faaaaaaaar differently to a polygamist than I would to a feminist. I believe the same thing, but in order to communicate my feelings, I’d probably concentrate on the commandment to no longer practice polygamy with the first, and the spiritual necessity of being willing to practice polygamy with the latter.

    I hope that makes sense.

    As far as the clothes go, I’m gently honest if something doesn’t look good, if asked. Of course, the wedding is a little too late to have any purpose in telling her how I feel, my role is to help her celebrate her marriage. However, if she took me dress shopping, I’d certainly pipe up, since my role there would be “dress analyst.” I still don’t feel that is any less honest.

    I suppose it boils down to a small bone I have to pick with a great many blogging topics/bloggers in the LDS sphere: Truth is more than fact. Honesty is much more than accuracy.

  • Alison Moore Smith August 9, 2007, 11:02 am

    Such interesting points. Yes, we do consider reception of the hearer. But I still say that answering a direct question without a direct answer is evasive. (I mean isn’t that what evasive means? To “to avoid answering directly”?) AND it’s telling to most mildly intelligent hearers “Is he competent?” Saying, “He could use coaching in…” does mean “No.” Saying, “Yes, he’s very competent, although he could use a bit of coaching in…” is a direct answer with some additional information.

    Frankly, I think the evasive answers usually compound the problem with regard to integrity. With the evasion and sugar-coating, we STILL lie, without the unequivocal direct answer, we DO impugn, AND we end up assuaging our guilt by being able to somehow claim that we did NOT lie. In other words, the answer mostly just makes US feel like we gave an acceptable answer.

    Posted By: SilverRain
    As far as the clothes go, I’m gently honest if something doesn’t look good, if asked. Of course, the wedding is a little too late to have any purpose in telling her how I feel, my role is to help her celebrate her marriage. However, if she took me dress shopping, I’d certainly pipe up, since my role there would be “dress analyst.” I still don’t feel that is any less honest.

    So if you’re AT the wedding and you tell the bride her dress looks beautiful, when you think her dress is horrid, it’s still honest? BECAUSE your “role is to help her celebrate”? Does the truth change circumstantially or by role?

    Posted By: SilverRain
    I suppose it boils down to a small bone I have to pick with a great many blogging topics/bloggers in the LDS sphere: Truth is more than fact. Honesty is much more than accuracy.

    I’m going to the book on this one. McKay specifically defines truth telling for the sake of this study:

    To tell the truth, rightly understood, is not just to state the true facts, but to convey a true impression. In other words, when I fail to convey a true impression, by whatever means, I am lying.

    This incorporates what Silver brings up about considering the reception of the hearer.

    He also addresses Tracy’s disagreement. He says sincerity is not enough. Tracy, you bring up intent and say that if you don’t INTEND to lie, then it’s not a lie. He says:

    …enthusiastic believers must always search their own consiences if they really want ot merit the label “an honest person.” To consistently ensure that we are telling the truth, we must earnestly ask ourselves quetions such as, “Is this conveying a true impression?”, “Should I ask more questions before declaring it truth?,” and “Should I indicate that this is only my belief or opinion so others do not accept it as the absolute truth?”

    Here’s the quote I wanted to include:

    According to ethics writer David Cherrington, if I sincerely believe that I am basically honest all the time, but my words or behavior begin to conflict with this belief, psychologically it wil be much easier for me to redefine honesty and by so doing keep my record of honesty perfect than to admit to dishonesty and then try to correct all my errors by confronting my family, peers, bosses, customers, suppliers, the public, and so forth.

    Giving the impression that you think the bride looks beautiful, when you think she doesn’t, is NOT honest I think it’s obviously giving a false impression. But I do think it’s an appropriate or acceptable dishonesty.

    Again, I think that’s McKay’s main point. Let’s call it what it is rather than redefine so that we can still call ourselves “honest.”

    I’d like to ask my question again. We all value honesty and integrity. That’s obvious in how we defend it and how we all WANT to see ourselves as fundamentally honest. But is honesty more important than kindness? love? charity? tact?

    Our talk indicates that we think it is. Our behavior, however, says we don’t.

  • Alison Moore Smith August 9, 2007, 11:05 am

    Interestingly (to me at least), the David Cherrington he quotes above is probably in my top 25 people I most admire. He was my bishop nearly 20 years ago. He was the bishop who called me to be a Relief Society president. (And Sharilee, too.) He is a man of great love, intelligence, faithfulness, and, yes, integrity.

  • agardner August 9, 2007, 12:30 pm

    Dang, I’m really going to have to get a hold of this book now. I was hoping that my local library might have it, but no such luck! I’m quite fascinated by this discussion.

    Without having read the book, I’d like to take a shot at your question Alison. Is honesty more important than kindness, etc.? I would say only if it something that is going to affect someone’s welfare. Does the ugly bride need anyone to tell her that isn’t beautiful to aid in her welfare, or someone else’s welfare? I don’t think so. Her mom will love her no matter what. Her husband chose her, so he has obviously made his peace with it. So why would it matter to me if she wears something that doesn’t fit or look good on her? So I would probably go through the line and tell her congratulations and that I wish her the best without saying anything about her appearance…because it doesn’t matter in the eternal scheme of things. Now, if it were a friend and she asked me what I thought, I would probably tell her what I thought. It depends on the depth of the relationship and the importance of the topic. I don’t really think it’s necessary to run around telling everyone who is fat that they are fat. Why not – it’s the truth, right? But is that really something that is going to help them in any way? But if it were someone close to me gaining the weight, I would say something. In a kind way, but I would say something.

    I think a lot of the things we hesitate on are appearances. Perhaps that’s the spirit telling us to just zip our traps for a moment and let people live their lives. If they aren’t hurting themselves or others, I see no need to share hurtful things with people even if they are true.

    This just brought up a whole yucky facet of my life. I was probably the bride who didn’t look good, lol!! Seriously, I have no fashion sense. In fact, my mom and sister pretty much picked out my dress for me because I hate to shop. They picked out a few that they liked and had me try them on, and I picked the one I liked the best (I think I only tried on 3-5 total) and that was it. It was a less than an hour process and I didn’t think about it again until my wedding day and haven’t thought about it much since. It just wasn’t a big deal to me, really. But yes, it would have really hurt my feelings needlessly if someone would have said, “Gee, an empire waist would have looked much better on you”.

    Now I’m going to wax long and whiny about my life…so you can tune out if you wish.

    I have a sister a year younger than me. I inherited the shorter, stouter frame of one side of my family, and my sister inherited the taller, thinner frame. That girl could eat (and still can at age 35) pretty much anything she wants and not gain a pound. I don’t think she’s ever been bigger than a size 5. I, on the other hand, can look at chocolate and it goes straight to my gut. It’s been a struggle. Anyway, my mom kind of ragged on me about it when I was a teenager (and a twenty-something, and a thirty-something…and I’m sure it will just be the gift that keeps on giving, lol!). Every so often, she would tell me that I was getting fat, or that I really needed to watch my weight, or exercise more, or “do you really need that piece of pie?”. Was she telling the truth? Yes. I probably should have watched what I ate and taken care of myself more. Today, I wear a 12 and my sister wears a 3-5. Could I even be that small if I tried? Probably not. Maybe an 8. My point is – did my mom’s honesty inspire me to change? Not really, it just made me hate her for awhile. Finally I just decided that I appreciated her concern but that her opinion on my appearance really doesn’t affect my eternal welfare. So now I just say, “Okay” or “thanks mom” and it goes right into my delete file. I don’t need that kind of honesty! When I used to fight with her about it, she’d say, “I’m only doing it because I love you and I want you to be happy. You will be happier if take care of yourself”…it’s all true, but it’s not inspiring! All it makes me think is that my mom can’t look at me and see the real person, only that she sees a blob who is not as cute as she could be.

    Now, I love my mom to death. Other than this subject, we actually get on quite well. If I ask her for her opinion, I do listen and I do value it. But unsolicited honesty in this case has been nothing but hurtful. Does she think I don’t know when I’m gaining? Does she not know that I when I shop I’m actually looking at the 12’s and not the 3’s, and I do realize that?? I mean, I’m not a stupid person. I know when I look like crap. So I really don’t need her rubbing my face in it all the time, and I’ve told her as much.

    Oddly enough, at times I’ve actually found the gaining to be an act of rebellion. Kind of a “you don’t want me to be fat so I’m going to be fat” thing. I find myself most motivated to lose the weight when everyone is just leaving me alone.

    Hi mom, I love you!! (I did tell my mom about this site and if she went ahead and joined I might be in big trouble). :bigsmile:

  • mlinford August 9, 2007, 12:30 pm

    OK. So is it ever OK to teach about something we HOPE to be true? Even if we can “no more desire to believe?” I think sometimes the way we get our testimonies is by doing just that. We don’t have to say “I know” but we can teach in hope. The Spirit will be more likely to testify if we take that leap of faith, I think, at least sometimes.

    Just a thought. As a missionary, I found that to be amazingly true. It wasn’t until I was out teaching about JS every day, multiple times a day, that I got the specific testimony of him that I had yearned for.

  • Alison Moore Smith August 9, 2007, 12:59 pm

    Posted By: agardnerNow, if it were a friend and sheaskedme what I thought, I would probably tell her what I thought. It depends on the depth of the relationship and the importance of the topic.

    No offense, agardner, but I don’t believe you! (Not that I’m calling you a liar or anything!) :bigsmile:

    Keep in mind, we’ve been talking about evasive answers to direct questions. Not just walking about spewing everything that pops into your head about everyone you come in contact with.

    So, if you are AT your best friend’s wedding and she has a hideous hairdo and bursts in and says, “Don’t you just LOVE my hair??” Would you REALLY say, “Actually, Susie, I think it’s very unattractive and make your ears look really big.” ???

    I actually had this happen at the wedding of the daughter of a friend. My friend asked me if I loved her daughter’s two-hour hairdo. I hated it. She is a pretty girl, with pretty hair, but she had this very severe, tight updo that tugged at her facial skin with a big knot squarely on top of her head. It looked like a tellie tubbie head. And it made her ears look like they poked way out. And I smiled and said, “She looks beautiful.”

    Being honest about my feelings about her hair would have been entirely inappropriate. It wasn’t at all relevant to the even that I hated her hair. Saying so would not have helped anyone and it would have been harmful. Being “honest” about it would have been mean-spirited and inconsiderate. In fact, I’d say that, in this case, honesty would be selfish. The ONLY good that would come from it would be that I could feel pious for being honest.

    Michelle, I think we have to distinguish between what is “OK” and what is “honest.” :smile: If we teach something as “absolute truth” but don’t yet know it IS, then we are aren’t being honest, are we?

  • agardner August 9, 2007, 1:22 pm

    LOL Alison. Evasive answers to direct questions…hmmm. I really do think in some situations I would be honest but I would try to do it as nicely as possible. Like if someone said, “Do you like my hair?”, if I was close enough to that person to tell them so and I thought it would matter, I would say something like, “I really prefer it the other way”. I guess that might not be a direct enough answer…hmmm… maybe just an “I don’t think that style flatters your beautiful eyes”, or how about “no, you look like crap”.

    I’m just rude that way. :wink: Just kidding. I could never see myself being flat out rude, telling someone I hated the way they looked just because it was true. But I might try to give some constructive criticism.

  • mlinford August 9, 2007, 1:43 pm

    If we teach something as “absolute truth” but don’t yet know it IS, then we are aren’t being honest, are we?

    Hm. I’m not sure it’s that clear cut. If you teach specifically that you KNOW it is when you don’t, that is one thing. If you teach something is Truth even when you aren’t sure yourself (but hope it is and know that what supports it is (e.g., you know the church is true, but you aren’t sure about that one specific thing but you teach it as part of the whole package of Truth because you trust the prophets and they say it’s true…or however you might package it all), then I’m not sure. I think there is a place for faith and hope and teaching according to that, even when you might not know 100% for yourself yet. Sometimes the knowing comes in the teaching. If we always avoid what we struggle with, might we miss out on chances to have our testimony strengthened?

    And could some of this simply boil down to semantics? :confused:

  • Kathy August 9, 2007, 2:55 pm

    Hmmm… interesting conversatation. I didn’t realize the church strongly discouraged sterilization. My husband had a vasectomy and we both have felt that was definitely the right decision. However, there is a health risk if I were to get pregnant again and we both weren’t willing to take that risk. Without the health risk, we would probably go the same route but then we’re older (as far as the child-bearing years are concerned), we know we’re done, and already have 7 kids. I doubt that the church would think doing a permanent thing as a bad decision in a case like ours.

    The way I look at it is as if I were counseling my own children. If they had decided they were done having children would I recommend sterilization? No! Unless it could be life threatening (in which case, I would probably strongly recommend), or if they were older and had a confirmation from the Lord that they were done. I think the church has to take a stance of strongly discouraging anything of permanence as I would with my own children as a general rule. So, what I’m trying to say is that if I were the church, counseling millions, I would take the same stance because it’s the most reasonable, not because sterilization is inherently bad.

  • Kathy August 9, 2007, 2:58 pm

    Oops Alison! will you please move my previous post to the correct discussion? Thank!

  • Alison Moore Smith August 9, 2007, 3:07 pm

    Posted By: agardnerno, you look like crap”

    :rolling:

    Exactly. But in the situation I was in, how could criticism be constructive? She couldn’t call the stylist to come redo the hair in the middle of the reception. And even saying, “I like it better the other way.” How would that help? It would just make HER feel “like crap.”

    Posted By: mlinfordIf you teach something is Truth even when you aren’t sure yourself

    Then shouldn’t you SAY so? If honestly is THE primary goal? Shouldn’t you say you HOPE it’s true or you THINK it’s true? Again, if honesty is the value that trumps all others?

    I guess what I’m trying to get at is that just because we hope it’s true doesn’t mean we are being honest if we proclaim something IS true.

    It’s funny because the same thing happened in his class. Mormons are SO entrenched in the idea that “honesty is the best policy” that we can’t even IDENTIFY how often we are NOT honest. We keep moving the mark so that our behavior, whatever it may be, fits INSIDE the circle of honesty.

    Believe me, I’m included in this as well. I just happen to have had a few years to think about these concepts.

    Posted By: mlinfordSometimes the knowing comes in the teaching.

    But do we really learn the truth of a principle by lying about it? Studying, teaching, praying, yes. But lying about our level of understanding or commitment?

    If we always avoid what we struggle with, might we miss out on chances to have our testimony strengthened?

    I don’t think requiring honesty is synonymous with avoiding something.

  • SilverRain August 9, 2007, 4:31 pm

    So if you’re AT the wedding and you tell the bride her dress looks beautiful, when you think her dress is horrid, it’s still honest?

    Well, I assume she isn’t asking me at the wedding. I assume she has more important things to think about at that point. I wouldn’t volunteer the information, but if she did ask, I’d tell her it’s not my style, but that she looks beautiful. She is not the dress. Saying it that way is both honest and tactful.

    when I fail to convey a true impression, by whatever means, I am lying.

    I do disagree with this because it fails to allow room for the attempt to convey a true impression. If I say “I don’t feel well” and my husband interprets that to mean “I hate you,” I can’t really be responsible for that, since all I was really trying to say is that I felt sick. If, on the other hand, I meant “I hate you,” and said “I don’t feel well,” knowing he would think I was trying to say I was sick, that would be lying. At that point, it isn’t that you are dishonest even though you made the attempt to be honest, it is that you are being dishonest with yourself. Any sincere attempt to be honest is honesty. Note the word “sincere.” It is up to the tellers to evaluate themselves.

    As a friend to several who believe honesty is more important than kindness, I agree to the point that it is not. Charity is more important than any other virtue. That’s a no-brainer to me. After all, Christ with his allegories was a master of evasive answers.

    For what it’s worth, my mother made my wedding dress, and I looked horrible in it because I had gained weight since the fitting. The dress was absolutely beautiful, I wasn’t. But at that point, I didn’t care. And also – I wish I fit into a size 12 again.

  • kiar August 9, 2007, 4:50 pm

    maybe that poor bride was going for the “Teletubbie” look?
    I do agree that we should be honest, but it also goes hand in hand with “your freedom of speech ends where someone else’s ears start.” we should always at least try to be tactful… ok, if soemone approached me wearing a neon yellow shirt over electric purple crushed velvet pants, I could see myself screaming on terror and heading for the hills, but it doesn’t help someone to be hurtful. I just LOVE it when soemone says “now, I am only telling you this for your own good…” That to me is a load of hooey! they are just trying to make themselves feel ok about pounding your self-esteem into the ground. I too have a mom that used to ask me if I needed that piece of pie, or did I really think I should wear that shirt. Honestly the woman tried to dress me like a 40 year old when I was 12. I had to move 3000 miles away and to another country to finally get her to stop. (don’t get me wrong, my mom is now my best friend, just by phone!)
    its like when boys would say that so and so had a “sweet spirit”. That always set my teeth on edge. Can you imagine if you heard someone say that about you? how crushed you would feel, since you know EXACTLEY what they meant? And so what if you truly DO have a sweet spirit? (Don’t we all?) It sure as heck wouldn’t make you feel any better about yourself. Ok, my rant is over, sorry if I rattled on too long. I guess what the point to what I am trying to say is, be honest, but not to the point of brutality.

  • Alison Moore Smith August 9, 2007, 4:53 pm

    Posted By: SilverRainWell, I assume she isn’t asking me at the wedding.

    I WAS asked that at the wedding reception.

    I wouldn’t volunteer the information, but if shedidask, I’d tell her it’s not my style, but that she looks beautiful.

    Really? Why? (That’s a totally sincere question.)

    Saying it that way is both honest and tactful.

    No, it’s not! If you think she doesn’t look beautiful, which is what I’m talking about.

    I’m glad you brought up tact. Sam and I were talking about it this morning. Since we’re defining, here is the definition:

    a keen sense of what to say or do to avoid giving offense; skill in dealing with difficult or delicate situations.
    a keen sense of what is appropriate, tasteful, or aesthetically pleasing; taste; discrimination

    I think this is a key element of the discussion because TACT is about what’s tasteful and appropriate. It’s even about cleverness and manipulation a bit. It’s NOT about what’s true.

    Posted By: SilverRainAny sincere attempt to be honestishonesty. Note the word “sincere.”

    McKay addresses this specifically in the section titled “Sincerity Is Not Enough” on page 17. Did you read that?

    As I said, his definition of truth telling is “to convey a true impression.” I think it’s the best definition I have ever heard defended. But he also says, “For those who don’t like my propposed definition, create one of your own, but do get a working definition.” The point being that honesty should not be a moving target.

    What is YOUR working definition, Silver?

    Posted By: SilverRainCharity is more important than any other virtue.

    So would it be charitable to be honest about the bride’s appearance? :smile:

    Posted By: SilverRainAfter all, Christ with his allegories was a master of evasive answers.

    Very good point!

    And I’m sorry about your dress. :sad:

  • SilverRain August 9, 2007, 5:13 pm

    Hm. I posted a long comment that got lost. Irritating.

    To sum up – truth and tact are not mutually exclusive. Honesty done in the spirit of love is charitable. All brides I have ever seen are beautiful, so I wouldn’t be lying. And my dress was beautiful, temple-appropriate and made by my mother. It was everything I wanted it to be.

  • mlinford August 9, 2007, 5:15 pm

    But do we really learn the truth of a principle by lying about it?

    I think we might be talking past each other. Never did I suggest lying. It would be lying about it if we said “I know this is true” when we don’t personally know it’s true. But if we are a teacher, and the lesson includes teaching something we still aren’t sure about, we can still teach it, IMO. We don’t have to declare our knowledge or lack thereof. We can teach it because it’s part of the whole that we believe to be true and take it in faith. Does that make sense?

    So, for example, if I’m teaching my class about eternal families, and I’m still not sure on the topic, I can teach the principles. I can read prophetic quotes and scriptures. I don’t have to testify that I know it’s true if it’s not. But it wouldn’t be LYING to teach a principle that is declared as true by our prophets and that is included in a lesson manual. Do you see the difference I’m aiming at?

  • Oregonian August 10, 2007, 5:42 pm

    I am reading this book and feel like I just got cracked on the side of the head. Great book, but humbling too.

    The thread is really funny when put next to the book. Its just what he said. No one will admit that they lie! Come on, if her dress or hair is awful and you are asked about the hair or dress and you say, “You are beautiful” because all brides are beautiful? Its just like he says. I don’t have the book but it was about how we think we are honest, so what we do has to be honest, so we define honesty by what we do, instead of what it really means. The meaning changes so that we can stay honest.

    Its like we can’t even talk about the rest of the book, because no one will even get the basic truth of the fact that either we DO lie sometimes OR we are just really rude people without any tact or compassion.

    So I’m going to be the first to say that now I realize that I lie a lot more than I ever thought!

  • facethemusic August 11, 2007, 12:34 am

    Wow– I missed alot in this conversation!!

    He also addresses Tracy’s disagreement. He says sincerity is not enough.

    I said the same thing, Alison. I’m just saying that just because you say something that isn’t true, it doesn’t mean that you’re “lying”.

    Remember when McKay told about the student in a class, who admitted that she’s not ALWAYS honest? That she admitted that every now and then she lies? Then he asked, in so many words “Would it be fair for me to say of her, that she’s an admitted liar.” ?
    Like — “Do you know Jane Smith?”
    “Yes, I know her. She’s an admitted liar.”
    He said that yes, it’s true– she did admit to lying every now and then, but the statement “She’s an admitted liar” gives the untrue and unfair impression that she’s perpetually dishonest, lies all the time and can’t be trusted.
    You mentioned this basic idea when you quoted him talking about giving a true impression.
    What I’M saying is that his OWN statement —

    “Can we be truly sincere in what we say and still convery a falsehood? If we say, ‘The world is flat,’ and we really believe it, does sincerity make the statement true? Isn’t the statement still false—a lie? ”

    gives a false, and untrue impression. By his own standard given about the words ‘admitted liar” — the word “lie” in the above quote, gives an “untrue impression”. I don’t know ANYONE who hears the word “lie” who doesn’t think that it means “to intentionally deceive.”
    Just because someone is wrong about something, it doesn’t mean they are lying. They might just be mistaken, or uninformed. It might just mean that they are “sincerely” wrong.
    If someone is convinced in the idea of the “Trinity”, are they “lying” when they say that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are one being?” No, they’re not lying, even though they are stating false information. They are simply mistaken and uninformed of the truth.
    Example–
    Just today, I was unable to find the paint rollers– I’ve been working on my daughter’s room.
    I called my husband at work to ask him if he’d seen them, and he said he hadn’t. I told him that I’d put them in the paint tray, and set them on the kitchen table– but he didn’t remember moving them or seeing them anywhere, other than when I was actually using them in my daughter’s room.
    A little while later, my daughter happened to see them. They were on top of the cabinets that are above our refrigerator– and my husband is the only one who can reach up there.
    Later, when he came home, he asked if I found them. When I told them where they were, he got this puzzled look on his face and goes “Huh– I MUST have put them up there. I’m the only one who can reach up there. That’s wierd, I honestly don’t remember putting them there. I’m sorry, I don’t even remember picking them up.”
    Was he telling me a lie when he told me earlier that he hadn’t seen the rollers?
    I don’t think it was a ‘lie”, he wasn’t intending to deceive, he wasn’t hiding anything, witholding the truth, or giveing a false or untruthful impression. He simply forgot, and was ‘wrong’.

  • Rebecca August 11, 2007, 12:47 am

    I am not a very outspoken person…I hardly ever speak in social situations so I guess that I could say that I am honest a lot of the time just for the fact that I don’t have many opportunities to be dishonest. :) I have found sometimes that when people ask me questions that I am sure they won’t like my answer the best thing to do is ask them a question in return. Usually that question is, “Are you just making conversation or do you really want to know what I think?” It’s honest and often times they realize that they don’t really want me to answer at all they were just trying to think of something to say to break the silence. It’s probably not the most socially acceptable thing to do but I find that most people don’t really have any interest in my opinion and I don’t like to waste my time with meaningless small talk or superficial validation.

    That’s not to say that there aren’t situations that I don’t lie because there certainly are and certain people in particular that I hardly am ever straightforward with but until I figure out a way to be honest and maintain a decent relationship dishonesty is the best policy. While reading this thread I have been thinking about Sister Pearce’s book that we read awhile ago and thinking about how much easier it is to be honest with people who have an open heart than those that don’t. There are a very few people that I can say that I am 100% honest with but that is only because I trust them and I know that even if I am completely honest and it hurts they will still love me and know that what I said was not meant to be hurtful and that my opinion of certain things doesn’t diminish their value as a person in my eyes and that I still love them. Does any of that make sense? It is almost one in the morning and I am operating on my last brain cells of the day…

  • SilverRain August 11, 2007, 9:49 am

    Oregonian – I never said I didn’t lie sometimes. What I did do was “redefine honesty” not because I want to feel that I’m honest, but because I feel that honesty is much more than reporting accurate facts. I did try to say that sometimes honesty is more about the truth behind the surface than about the obvious truth.

    Tracy said my point beautifully, especially in “Just because someone is wrong about something, it doesn’t mean they are lying.” One thing that is a corollary of this concept is that someone can actually be more dishonest tacitly than they would be by repeating something false. For example, if someone truly believed the world was flat and was speaking with someone who believed it was round and was about to go sailing off the ocean, that person would be more dishonest by letting person B sail off into what they believed was certain death than by warning them not to do it.

  • Alison Moore Smith August 11, 2007, 9:51 am

    Posted By: facethemusic
    I said the same thing, Alison. I’m just saying that just because you say something that isn’t true, it doesn’t mean that you’re “lying”.

    Except that he’s defined lying for the sake of clarity throughout the book and it would include that. As he said, you might not like his definition, but it is his working definition for truth vs. a lie. He suggests you come up with your own.

    Love your post, Rebecca. Honestly. :)

    As I think about my own personal behavior, I would say that I’m honest a lot of the time. I am very straightforward and blunt and I don’t sugar-coat things WHEN I THINK THE ISSUE IS CONSEQUENTIAL. If we’re talking about principle or God or morals or reason, I tend to be “honest” enough that it makes people mad. But if the issue is not consequential, I value kindness or friendship more than being able to say, “I never tell a lie.”

    By consequential, I mean something important, something eternal, something where the negative comment COULD be helpful–or helpful enough to overcome the harm it will do.

    I’ve given some examples, like the wedding hairdo. If I told the truth, the bride’s mom would feel uncomfortable, probably be angry at me for being rude, keep second-guessing what others were thinking the whole night. Harm. What possible good could come from ratting on her hairdo? None. Zero. Oh, except that *I* could feel really righteous for being “honest.”

    Phoeey. That’s just selfish if you ask me.

    As Silver brought up, Christ was a master of the evasive answer. And often his answers gave a false impression to listeners. He based his answers upon the listener, as someone else brought up earlier. So I see judging (yes, judging) the listener and the situation as being very important parts of being Christlike in our communication.

  • Alison Moore Smith August 11, 2007, 10:09 am

    mlinford wrote:I think we might be talking past each other. Never did I suggest lying.

    The scenario I gave, I think, DOES constitute lying by the definition in the book. I’m talking about teaching a principle that you don’t firmly believe while giving the IMPRESSION that you do.

  • facethemusic August 11, 2007, 12:50 pm

    I am very straightforward and blunt and I don’t sugar-coat things WHEN I THINK THE ISSUE IS CONSEQUENTIAL. If we’re talking about principle or God or morals or reason, I tend to be “honest” enough that it makes people mad. But if the issue is not consequential, I value kindness or friendship more than being able to say, “I never tell a lie.”

    Well spoken, Alison. And were peas in pod in this way.
    The example of the complimenting a bride on her wedding day, even if you don’t like the dress, the hair-do etc, reminded me of a similar example in Dr. Laura’s book “The Ten Commandments” where she goes into great depth, discussing all the pieces and parts that often aren’t discussed, for each of the commandments.
    For the 9th commandment, which is the one about bearing false witness, she says pretty much the same thing that you said:

    “Though you may be obliged to say the truth, you are not olibged to reveal all your thoughts….. If people truly expected perfect andor in all situations, life would become even more rude and hostile. There is the language of courtesay… Social life would be impossible if everyone, withor or withourt being asked were to tell the truth to everyone else as he sees it.”

    She specifically brings up the “bride” situation and said that in fact, in the Jewish tradition, “changing” the truth to avoid being unneccessarily rude or hurtful, is actually considered a mitzvah– a divine obligation of good deed)

  • Alison Moore Smith August 11, 2007, 1:13 pm

    I like that, Tracy. That’s one of the few LS books I have not read. Although I think using the term “changing the truth” gets to the self-deception side.

    I think this is important to really think about. If we can acknowledge, honestly, the times when we ARE giving a false impression, and really look at how and why we do it, we are less likely, I think, to become “confessed liars.” If we simply assume what we said was truth BECAUSE, well, “I really am an honest person” then we simply justify our behavior or continue to move the line of truth to accommodate our own behavior. And if we don’t even recognize that we ARE fudging on the truth, we tend to slip further down that slope.

    When I moved here there was a lot of contention in the ward due to the Home Owner’s Association. Most of the neighborhood is LDS and some of the blatant falsehoods–as well as the extreme false impressions–being spread and written stunned me. And the truth is, there probably wasn’t more than a tiny percentage of these “good LDS folks” that ever considered the fact that they were lying.

  • mlinford August 13, 2007, 11:58 am

    The scenario I gave, I think, DOES constitute lying by the definition in the book. I’m talking about teaching a principle that you don’t firmly believe while giving the IMPRESSION that you do.

    I still am a bit conflicted about this. By his definition, if you believe the world is flat but it isn’t, that is teaching a falsehood. If you don’t yet really know the Church is true, but it is, and you teach it as such (because that is what the manual says to teach, or because you teach in faith that it is true), that, by his definition, would not be a falsehood, because in the end it is True. There are things that are True (and critical to the plan of salvation) even if we don’t yet know they are, right?

    Therefore, I see a conflict. You might give an impression that you know it’s true when you don’t, but what you are teaching is True, therefore you are not teaching a falsehood by at least one of his definitions.

    I also am not sure how much I agree with the whole impression thing, if for no other reason than that makes honesty dependent on other people’s perceptions, which we sometimes can’t control. I’m not disagreeing with the idea that sometimes we deliberately (or sometimes even not consciously) manipulate someone’s impression of us or our thoughts or actions. I know there are times when I do this (it is something I am trying to work on though, FWIW :) ).

    I think another layer of this, though, esp. in context of the Church, is recognizing that something can be True without us knowing that it is yet. So, which is more important — teaching what is declared Truth by our prophets in faith (even if we aren’t to the point where we personally can declare it as such), or being “honest” with how unsure we might be, potentially giving an impression that things which are indeed True might not be? Sometimes our lack of confidence or our being too open about our personal doubts can give the impression that what the prophets teach really isn’t reliable, no? On the other hand, in some situations, opening up with our struggles can help someone realize that it’s not the end of the world to struggle with faith.

    I guess at this point I’m not convinced that what he has said gives a clear-cut answer to which is the better choice. I still have lots to read, though, so….

    Do you see what I’m driving at?

  • agardner August 13, 2007, 1:06 pm

    By the same token, what if you really believe something is true and you teach/tell/testify of it to others…and it turns out not to be true? Were you dishonest?

    BTW, my book should come today! Looking forward to it.

  • Alison Moore Smith August 13, 2007, 3:07 pm

    Yes, I do, Michelle, and I think you make good points. I think as far as “honesty'” goes I’m happy to go with his definition modified by our own knowledge. In other words, if we are mistaken about truth but present what we BELIEVE to be truth, I wouldn’t call that dishonest. I don’t think you need to include divining what others perceive as part of his definition, but I do think you have to include what REASONABLY would be perceived, given all you know about the recipient(s) and about humans in general.

    No, he doesn’t give clear-cut answers. That isn’t his point. It’s to get us to recognize and think about honesty…all the time.

  • mlinford August 14, 2007, 1:30 am

    By the same token, what if you really believe something is true and you teach/tell/testify of it to others…and it turns out not to be true?

    I don’t think this is dishonest, because to me dishonesty would include intent to be honest. You can’t sin without knowing that is what you are doing.

    don’t think you need to include divining what others perceive as part of his definition, but I do think you have to include what REASONABLY would be perceived, given all you know about the recipient(s) and about humans in general.

    I think we are in agreement. I’ll go read s’more and come back. :)

  • Alison Moore Smith August 19, 2007, 10:25 pm

    Just wanted to drop in. I’m just about to start the chapter on gaming ethics…which is my favorite part of this.

    Is anyone else getting to the point that you’re feeling the complexity of this issues? Fascinating.

  • mlinford August 21, 2007, 12:45 am

    I’ve just finished that chapter. And yes, the complexity is there, but I can’t put my finger on why it is that this book isn’t really gelling with me. I do think the way he parses out different kinds of ethics is interesting, though.

    Anyone here think it’s dishonest to dye your hair?

  • kiar August 21, 2007, 8:58 am

    if it is, then I am a huge liar. I have had my hair every color under the rainbow, and will continue to dye it until it falls out!!! (don’t worry, it is a natural shade at the moment)

  • Alison Moore Smith August 21, 2007, 9:55 am

    One of the things the gaming ethic chapter always brings out in my is this question:

    If good people are determined to be completely honest, are we doomed to always be led and “ruled over” by those who are dishonest?

    In other words, how do honest people compete with dishonest ones?

    Actually, I think the hair dye question is an interesting one, rather than a trite one. At what point does “putting you best food forward” turn to an utterly dishonest representation of oneself? Is that ever dishonest? At any point?

  • agardner August 21, 2007, 12:35 pm

    You can call me a liar regarding the hair dye as well. I started going gray on my mission!! If it’s dishonest, I’m willing to live with that – but I’m not willing to live with people thinking I’m 20 years older than I am because I am gray. I’ve always dyed my hair it’s natural color (or as close as I can get with at-home coloring kits, lol!) and I do it about every 4 weeks.

    My mom also grayed really early and dyed her hair for a very long time. Then, she decided that since she was in her 50’s she’d go ahead and let it go gray.

    She went to a wedding, and ran into an old friend there (near her same age). While they were visiting, someone who knew my mom came up and asked if this lady was her daughter. My mom was so embarrassed that she looked that much older than her friend, that she dyed her hair that night and has continued to do so.

    To me, it’s vanity rather than dishonesty. You can make an argument that vanity is also a vice…but I think someone who dyes their hair and puts on a little makeup to enhance their best features and cover the “not the best” is more vain than dishonest. In may case, trust me, I’m also doing you a big favor to not have to look at me in my natural state. :shocked:

    My book finally came yesterday!! I’m still in the intro…but I’ll work hard to catch up so I can participate.

  • kiar August 21, 2007, 2:55 pm

    isn’t it better to take care of your appearance, and perhaps dye your hair, or wear a little makeup, wear cute, modest clothes, than to fall into the “sloven” trap? we can’t expect people to look at us and want to be apart of our society/way of living, if we refuse to do the little things like look pretty and smell good. Could you imagine walking into sacremant mtg as an invesigator, and seeing a sea of unkempt and unattractive people? I know that I would hit the door running and never look back. Yes it sounds shallow, but would you all take Sherry Dew seriously if she didn’t have great hair and a serious flair with style? How about if the prophets wife was seen wearing a muu muu to General conferance? (I mean unless she was Tongan!!)
    I personally don’t wear makeup, I am one of the lucky ones that has been blessed with good skin and coloring, plus a husband that insists I don’t need it (Bless him!). But I did start to go grey at 21 (hmmm, corellation: first child… coincedence?) so didn’t want to give up my slight vanity in that regard.

  • Rebecca August 21, 2007, 3:32 pm

    It’s a cultural thing too. I have to say that I have wanted to have white hair very badly since I was young because I love white hair. My best friend has beautiful white hair and I am jealous. :) I have a bit of gray and white but my son likes to pick them out during Sacrament Meeting. I keep warning him that I am going to be bald if he keeps it up…not only that but that means it will take even longer for me to go completely gray!

    I am not sure that wearing make up and dying your hair is lying. I think that is an outward manifestation of the kind of person you are. Some people (not just women) are really concerned about their appearance and so if they are well manicured and coiffed that is an honest representation of themselves. I think that if a person wears trendy clothes or make up or dyes their hair solely based on influencing what others think of them then that is a bit of a falsehood.

  • agardner August 21, 2007, 5:03 pm

    Rebecca, I can honestly say you are the only person I’ve ever heard who wants white hair! I wouldn’t mind if I were 60 or 70, but 20?? I think I noticed my first gray at 21/22, and now if I didn’t dye it, it would 100% white/gray. I’m only 36!!

    But hey, if you want it so bad, we can trade! :bigsmile:

  • SilverRain August 21, 2007, 5:20 pm

    I’ve always wanted grey hair since my mom started going grey. I finally have a streak about half as thick as my pinkie finger, and I love it.

  • mlinford August 21, 2007, 5:31 pm

    See, I guess I don’t think of a little makeup here or some hair dye there as either necessarily dishonest or vain. I’m a big simpleton when it comes to appearance, but I still think that a little attention to appearance is not always bad. The scriptures talk about people who were “neat and comely.” It doesn’t take much money or time to at least look decent. In fact, I believe someone recently talked about looking decent as a part of what it means to be a follower of the Savior = to look nice enough to represent Him well.

    I think that your questions, Alison, about being at a disadvantage with the types of honesty he is suggesting, are good ones. I’m a businessperson by trade, and some of what he talks about is why marketing never appealed to me. I think there are a lot of dishonest ads out there, and it bugs me to death when companies aren’t up front. But where do we draw the line? I think he might have a point with some level of amoral standards for some of business.

    And yet…. I dunno.

    I think of a used car salesman (if you are in Utah, I know the BEST guy). He sat me down, told me the value of my car for trade-in, the cost of my car, exactly what his commission would be, and which of two scenarios would be the best (blue book values or another value). I will never forget how it felt to do business with someone who was just honest with me. No gimmicks, no stress, no guessing…and in a transaction that is usually fraught with gimmicks and games. And I will tell you that this guy had more light in his countenance than most people I know. You could just TELL he is a good guy.

    So, do we HAVE to submit to the ethics of the trade or game or whatever? Think of Elder Worthlin’s example of being at the bottom of the pile, inches from the goal line. He was honest, even though it’s typical to not be in order to get inches here or there. On the other hand, I’m a tennis player and I don’t think twice about taking advantage of my opponent’s weaknesses. And I won’t reveal mine for the sake of honesty. It seems bordering on silly to consider not using strategy when in a competitive game (I think of my basketball days, too, or really any other sport. There is a time and place for honesty at this level. I do think there are situations where rules of ethics/honesty will be different.

  • Alison Moore Smith August 21, 2007, 6:28 pm

    Great points, Michelle. I think that’s where the interesting decisions come in. It’s OK to use strategy in competitive games. What about competitive politics? What about competitive business? Maybe even better, what about competitive games that ARE business (lots of money involved) or ARE politics (the Olympics)?

  • mlinford August 21, 2007, 11:15 pm

    I just got back from a local gym, where sliding sales tactics are apparently the norm. A part of me doesn’t want to give them my money. I felt a bit like I was at a used car sales lot.

    “If you buy TODAY then I can get you this good deal. (The sort of underlying pitch is that ‘We care about your health.’ And we know your money matters to you more than it does to the company.”

    “OK. I have two important medical tests (biggies, like on my heart and my brain) this week and I don’t want to commit until I have a solid OK from my doc.”

    “Well, you will have three days to cancel, so if you cancel by Friday….”

    “I probably won’t get results until Monday.”

    Silence, and this look, like, “Well, whaddya gonna do? I can’t hold this price until Monday.” I keep thinking, “You have touted your power as a manager, and here I am, totally interested in putting down a chunk of change, but needing an extra couple of days to get medical OK. Looks like my money and health really aren’t the priority after all?”

    To his credit, he was fairly upfront (or at least tried to appear to be) and finally relented, sort of, saying that I probably could come Friday and probably get the same deal. (I had to push, though.) But he’s not sure (since they go by quota. And if they are under quota, they can offer better deals. Or if they have a hard sell like me (as opposed to people who just might take what they get at face value, assuming that is the honest-to-goodness deal everyone gets), then they might see what they can do.

    But I can’t help but think of the folks who might not have the experience to know that they might be able to negotiate. And they would be out several hundred bucks. Kinda bugs me.

  • mlinford August 21, 2007, 11:24 pm

    Oh, and add another layer to the honesty question — he couldn’t give me extra time on the three days if I paid with a credit card, because that would time stamp it. But even if I put down one dollar, he would hold my application and not process it until later in the week. Hmmm. Would you have done that? Is post-dating anything honest? And was he being honest that he couldn’t give me the same offer later in the week, before he told me I could put a dollar down?

  • Alison Moore Smith August 22, 2007, 10:01 am

    Michelle, way to go for not succumbing to the hard sell. The high pressure is all part of the game.

    Posted By: mlinfordI keep thinking, “You have touted your power as a manager, and here I am, totally interested in putting down a chunk of change, but needing an extra couple of days to get medical OK. Looks like my money and health really aren’t the priority after all?”

    Great line. I wish you had said this out loud. (I assume you didn’t?) Because he won’t be able to justify it with his former comments. This is what they all need to hear every time they give the “only good today” hogwash.

    My suggestion is to forget about it until Monday. When your doc gives the OK, go in and ask for the same price…or better. If they won’t give it to you, walk away. :)

  • Oregonian August 26, 2007, 11:12 pm

    Michelle, tell us what you did about the gym thing.

    I’m finally into the gaming chapter. Wow that puts a hole new thing in the mix that I never thought about. Thinking about war and spies and all that. They (we) lie all the time and I think its OK. Do we stand up and say “Hello! Hello! Osama? We’ll be bombing out Bagdad next week. Just trying to be honest and not sneak up on you!”

    Do any of you have family in the military? They have to try to trick the enemy.

  • mlinford August 27, 2007, 12:14 am

    So far, no deal from me. I got the high pressure thing again. I am considering a total gym or something like that to use at home. My little one is still at the point where I think too many trips to the gym will wear on her and that is not what I want right now in our life. I’m trying to simplify my life, not add more things I have to do.

    BUT I do have a couple of friends who go regularly, so going with them appeals to me.

    I will say that the whole experience of the hard sell, the slimey costs that they are so “nicely” willing to pass up “just for me” and the fact that other people who might not be so stubborn might get burned that extra 200 bucks really all bugs me. Especially because of my training in grad school (business), I am a VERY picky customer, and if I leave feeling like you are trying to pull one on me, you might not get my business.

  • agardner August 27, 2007, 7:57 am

    I used to use a total gym. They are pretty cool for the price.

    Now I use a treadmill (at home) and sometimes exercise videos.

    Back on the subject, I’m still just starting this book. Hopefully I’ll catch up and get it finished this week.

  • Alison Moore Smith August 27, 2007, 8:00 am

    agardner, be sure to share your insights when you do! The more ideas to bounce around, the better.

    Michelle, I have an older Total Gym, too. It’s not quite as fancy as the new ones, but it works great and you’re welcome to come try it out if you like. I also have a treadmill and a multi-weight set. I use those most often.

  • mlinford August 27, 2007, 3:30 pm

    BTW, they called back (AGAIN) to follow up. I told the manager’s manager (when he asked if I had any specific concerns) that I wasn’t happy with the pressure sales and the ignoring of my health. He assured me that I could come back and get that great deal whenever I wanted.

    “Do you want us to call you back in a week or do you want to call us in a week?”

    I just told them I’d call them when I wanna. Alison, I might take you up on your offer. Could you email me some contact info?

    Tying this back into the book, I have found that greater business ethics make me want to give more return business. Like that used car salesman I mentioned earlier.

  • Alison Moore Smith August 27, 2007, 3:42 pm

    Way to stand your ground, Michelle. And you got him to come clean about the real long-term nature of the sales price.

    Anyone every been to Direct Buy? They have the same kind of thing. Come in for a free tour. Then you an buy a member ship ONLY if you buy it right then. I argued with the phone salesman about this for about 20 minutes and then told him, “If you won’t let me think about the membership for a couple of days, I can only assume that you know that in a couple of days, I’ll change my mind. And if YOU know I’ll change my mind, I guess it would be a waste of time to take a tour.”

    He was so mad that he called back about three more time in the next hour.

    Anyway…

    Michelle, my contact info is on my business page. My phone is 768-2768. No, I have no privacy!

  • mlinford September 5, 2007, 5:30 pm

    An article that might be relevant…

    http://www.ldsmag.com/spiritjourney/070904jesus.html

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