How to Have Honesty in Friendships

Eye contact is important in honest communication.
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Honesty is the foundation of a good friendship. Building and maintaining this honesty requires a conscious effort to tell the truth, communicate freely and keep your word. You must be able to rely on each other. You may need to confront your friend at times or deal with difficult emotions. But in order to have an honest relationship, you must always feel able to be open with each other.

1 Tell the Truth

Lying to your friend devalues the relationship and is likely to work against you in the long run. When your friend asks you a question, give a real answer. Don't embellish or twist the truth. Friends need to trust each other if the relationship is going to last, and trust is built through open, honest communication. Telling the truth may even cut down on your stress and anxiety, which will improve your overall relationship. Truth-tellers improve their personal relationships and social interactions, according to research conducted by University of Notre Dame psychology professor Anita Kelly. This research additionally showed that truth-tellers had significantly better physical and mental health, reported the American Psychological Association in the article "Lying Less Linked to Better Health, New Research Finds."

2 Don't Omit

Many people consider omission a form of lying. Omission is telling only part of the truth. While this may seem more acceptable, the attempt to deceive is the same, explains general internist Alex Lickerman in his Psychology Today article "Happiness in this World: Why We Lie." By leaving out important information, you fail to be completely honest. The full truth, no matter how discouraging, negative or unfortunate, is key in a friendship because it helps people bond and establish loyalty. To keep your friendship honest, don't omit facts or feelings. If there is something you think your friend should know, tell him. Chances are, he'd find out anyway and would feel disappointed that he didn't hear it from you.

3 Confront the Issue

Confrontation is difficult for some people. Arguing with a friend can be uncomfortable and upsetting. However, sometimes confrontation is necessary and actually beneficial. To have continuous honesty in your friendship, you may have to confront your friend about an issue. Maybe your friend betrayed you. Maybe your friend did something you asked him not to do. Talk about it openly despite the unsettling emotions that might follow. You won't be able to find a solution if you don't face the situation head-on. Learning how to resolve conflicts together can help you build a stronger, more honest relationship over time.

4 Keep Your Word

Honesty is not only about communication. It is also about follow-through. When you say you are going to do something, do it. Trust grows when there is evidence to support it. Friends want to know that they can rely on each other. To earn your friend's trust and respect, you must say what you mean and mean what you say, explains Margaret Paul, who holds a doctorate in psychology, in the Huffington Post article "5 Reasons to Do What You Say You Will Do." It is a matter of integrity and brings people closer.

Rachel Pancare taught elementary school for seven years before moving into the K-12 publishing industry. Pancare holds a Master of Science in childhood education from Bank Street College and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Skidmore College.