When do you have permission to be honest?

Written by Mathieu Yuill

January 03, 2014

You’ve heard the saying “Honesty is the best policy,” before and there’s not much worse than being lied to but why is it that being honest is so hard?

The problem is it may not be your job to be honest.

I’ll explain. The other day a colleague of mine was lamenting the fact he has a friend who desperately wants to be copy writer in advertising. His friend will get a freelance job here and a short contract there but he complains because he doesn’t get a call back for more work and his contracts never get extended.

[quote_right]He struggles with whether or not he should just tell him – doing so might strain the relationship or it could be the words he needs to hear.[/quote_right]“He’s just not that great of a writer,” my colleague says.

My colleague becomes frustrated when his friend complains to him about not getting work despite it being his passion. He struggles with whether or not he should just tell him – doing so might strain the relationship or it could be the words he needs to hear.

But the truth is, he hasn’t asked my colleague to be honest and even though they are great friends, it isn’t his job to be his career counsellor.

There are people who’s job this is: people he’s received freelance work and employers he’s been on contract with. They are the ones who need to be honest with him.

And when the honesty comes, it needs to be done with kindness and thoughtfulness.

If his friend did ask why he thought he doesn’t get callbacks or contract extensions, my colleague (who’s main goal is to maintain the friendship) should ask his friends questions like; “What do the people who gave you the work in the first place say?” or “What do you think you need to do to get a contract extension?”

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