Communication Made Easy — Speaking, Editing, Writing, Marketing, Networking Answers

A picture may be worth 1,000 words, but words themselves are at the basis of all communication. Whether we are communicating for business or personal reasons, our spoken and written words matter. These posts will address issues and answer questions related primarily to business communications, as they affect writing, credibility, marketing, and networking.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Living the Truth

A quick Google search of the term "living out loud" revealed 330,000 results. Changed that just slightly to "living the truth" and the number was reduced to 58,000. I think this post is about a bit of out loud, which cannot happen, really, without living the truth.

But what do you do when you find yourself having to live a lie? Or at least having to keep a full disclosure from someone?

I remember a colleague of mine at Lehman Brothers in the mid-90s. My friend was of mixed (Western & Eastern) ethnicities, being Swedish on his mom's side and Iranian on his father's side. Although he lived and worked in the Anglo world of investment banking, he kept many of the Eastern traditions, particularly as they related to his spiritual life. But he also had an interesting objectivity about Western beliefs.

One day, our conversation turned to a story in the NY Times about a service in Japan that enabled women working as escorts (hookers) to save face with their families, because it provided them a way to give their families a false belief that the women had legitimate jobs — whenever anyone called their "office" number, a receptionist would take a message, thereby covering for the girls. My friend thought the cover business was a good idea, as it allowed these women to keep from embarassing their families. At the time, I held the more didactic position that the truth was sacred — and that living a lie was a bad thing. My colleague pointed out to me that this idea of full disclosure is a very Western concept . . . and he argued vociferously that there are times when telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth can be bad, edgy, detrimental — even dangerous.

I suppose I've grown more open-minded since that conversation . . . but it wasn't until today that I've actually found myself in the position of having to live the lie to protect someone I love.

The short (and less-than-scintillating) version of the story is that I inadvertently found out some information about someone I love . . . information I know for a fact that this person has gone to great lengths to keep personal and private. We haven't known each other all that long, and it remains possible that one day this person will decide to reveal the information to me on their own. Without knowing all the details (the information I uncovered is incomplete, to be sure), I can only guess that the circumstances of the story are embarrassing, even shameful . . . and I fully understand why this person would choose to keep the information from me.

As my NYC colleague pointed out, the fact is that just because we know someone well . . . just because we love them . . . even if they are our life partner . . . does not automatically mean that we are owed full disclosure all the time. To imply that an S.O. relationship should be completely free of secrets is to say, essentially, that we want to climb inside that other person's head and be them. Thanks, but no thanks. I have enough trouble most days just being me. I've got my stuff I tell no one — or tell only selected people. This special person in my life deserves equal consideration.

The problem for me arises in the question of how to remain in integrity in our relationship while preserving the privacy and not revealing my inadvertent discovery . . . because in not telling, there does remain the component of living a lie.

It's an age-old question. You learn your best friend's husband is cheating on her. Do you tell her? Some say yes, some say no, others say it depends on the situation. I am of the school that there are very few black and white answers that fit every circumstance every time. In my situation, I am choosing, at least for the moment, not to tell.

As someone newly exposed to the Unity Church in Phoenix, I have been quite taken with their Commitment to Living Love.

I commit to living love, to the best of my ability, with my thoughts, words, and actions. I am excited to share this commitment with others.

  1. I go to my heart, and I ask you to go to your heart, because I believe in
    the connecting power of love.
  2. I see the greatness of myself and I see the greatness in you. Your life and
    my life have infinite possibilities.
  3. I love and accept you just the way you are, and I respect your right to be
    different and think differently than I do.
  4. I love you and myself enough to tell you what's going on with me and to
    listen deeply to what's going on with you.
  5. I forgive myself, and I ask for your forgiveness, when I am not living
  6. I use words of kindness, encouragement, appreciation, and gratitude to build
    up you, myself, and others.
  7. I care for you. How can I support you?

Number 4 and number 7, particularly, speak to me with regard to this issue of communication. I have no doubt that I will, eventually, have to live my truth, and disclose my unfortunately timed discovery. To do any less will likely kill this oh-so-treasured relationship. But as a very wise friend reminded me, I do not need to disclose all today.

And so, today I set my intention to receive divine guidance about the timing of my disclosure, so that I can know with utter certainty the precise time to reveal this discovery, come clean, and speak my truth. In the meantime, preserving my loved one's pride and privacy — and continuing to embrace them fully — is simply another way of living out loud and living my truth.

Have you ever encountered a similar situation? What did you do? How did you handle it? I invite your responses!

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