In any situation, stay with the truth.
In a workshop session I led recently, a young manager asked me if speaking the truth was worth it at all. He said, “I feel most comfortable saying things as they are. I prefer being in-the-face. But I am soon discovering that people don’t like it. I am losing friends and relationships.”
The manager raises an interesting question.
We too have been told, or have sometimes experienced, that staying with the truth can be a competitive disadvantage. Sometimes, we wonder if speaking our mind will make others uncomfortable or even hurt them. We desist from speaking the truth also because we want to cover-up. But let me tell you, from my experience, that truth is a liberator. It is a healer. It is a very deadly weapon, a brahmastra, in our arsenal. I believe we fight shy of using it only because we are worried about becoming vulnerable in this ‘big, bad, cold and merciless’ world.
Fundamentally, our world view has to change. The world is not made up of hypocrites, cynics, facists, corrupt folks and terrorists alone. They are but a small part of humanity. There is a lot of goodness among the rest of humanity. You will be able to relate to this perspective only by making yourself vulnerable, by clinging on to the truth, irrespective of the circumstance. This alone will fetch you the love, compassion and warmth of like-minded people around you. If someone deserts you because you spoke the truth, then they really were not worth being in your Life. Period.
Here’s an excerpt from my Book (Fall Like A Rose Petal) that details one situation (among many) when I have seen the truth work to our advantage (my Book is a collection of letters addressed to my two children Aashirwad and Aanchal; Mom here refers to Vaani):
For example, a year ago, a government department slapped a claim of ₹14 Lakh on our Firm. Our auditor refused to represent us to meet the authorities because we had not paid the audit firm their fees in two years. Mom and I decided to meet the officer in the government department directly and explain our circumstances. The auditor, whose son studies in the same class as Aanch, warned us against ‘putting our hand into a snake-pit’ but we decided to go ahead. Our reasoning: it was better to deal with the issue head-on than live in fear.
We met the official concerned and while narrating our story, concluded by telling him that we were not even contesting the claim because we were not qualified to do so. We asked for his understanding and for time to pay up. We said we can’t pay now and we can’t bribe.
The official, in whom were vested sweeping powers to slap claims and effect collections, was surprised at our candor. He said that in his 30 years of service, he had never encountered such an honest and proactive approach or heard such a moving story.
“My heart goes out to you and your family, Sir. This is a department where people like you come to bribe people like me only after they have been coerced into submission by the department. When we forcibly summon people, they seek both illegitimate, and often unreasonable, waivers. We allow them the waivers because that’s how the system works. We threaten people and they cough up. But here you are, proactively coming and meeting me. I am moved by your story. Just leave. Forget about this claim. You have bigger things, like saving your family, to deal with,” he told us, flinging the claim file for our Firm to a pile beside his desk.
Telling the truth as it is, however impractical and unbelievable it may seem, and by always choosing to wear my Life on my sleeve, has always worked for me. And for us. It has taught us that people always respect the truth and revere honesty.
Besides, when you stay with the truth you don’t have to remember what you said! Most importantly, having embraced the truth, you will sleep well. When you can sleep in peace, you are truly blessed. Nothing else, believe me, matters!