Thursday, 24 May 2012

The Gift of Honesty

As an accountant, I can see the act of gift giving through a raw technical point of view.  Credit cash, debit inventory as the gift giver engages in a physical transaction to acquire a new gift. Credit Inventory once the gift is given, but what account is debited to balance the transaction? The answer is relatively simple – happiness. Giving to someone and watching their face light up in surprise is an amazing sight to see. 

However, that is a typical and common point of view. Giving can also be done through other means, and may not be well received. The other means I am referencing is honesty. Our society has become complacent and passive; often one will choose the easier complimentary route of embracing one’s decisions and viewpoints with an agreeable answer while thinking the opposite.

Think of it like this. If a friend of yours decided to buy a car that they could not afford, but desperately wanted in order to attract a member of the opposite sex – what would your response be? Your friend obviously wants confirmation for this decision, and it is much easier to agree with their plan on payments for the car and maintenance. Or, you could choose another route, offering one line of disagreement that is quick and probably will simply turn your friend off from your opinion.

Or, the last option – giving a frank and honest answer on why your friend should not buy that car. Spending the time to explain thoughtfully your arguments and working through the issue. In terms of the example, discussing with your friend why using a material item to elevate status to attract based on false premise of wealth is simply not a strong way to attract a significant other. Not only that, the decision to buy an expensive car which your friend cannot afford will cause very real changes financially in their life.

Although this is the longer route, a real friend will give you honest well thought out advice when it’s needed. This is indeed a gift that is sorely missed in our society today, the ability to disagree with the direction of another person on reasonable grounds – and outwardly showing your legitimate concerns. The only reason a friend will outline their concerns is because they care. If your friend did not care about the outcome of your decisions, there would be no concern and hence a friend would simply agree with your decisions, regardless of the expected outcome.

Yes, sometimes you will encounter an adverse opinion to your decisions. Yet, hostility to another argument is no way to counter honest thoughtful statements that might be true. Instead, use the concerns to make a better decision.

Listening to a person and giving an honest opinion is a gift that is incredibly undervalued. In business these people are called consultants, and charge quite a bit for their services. In life, these are called best friends who charge nothing. The people in your life who give you the gift of honesty through sincere listening are the people who should be cherished and appreciated. 


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