The Art of Telling the Truth Well – Part Four


Timing is everything … so they say.

I think “they” are right.

The art of honesty requires sensitivity to timing. If a friend tells me that her daughter is struggling with schoolwork, then I don’t need to respond that my kid is getting straight A’s – even if it’s true.


Communicating truth in the right way is usually the hardest for me. As a strong proponent of absolute truth, I tend to get my hairs tangled whenever I wish to blast someone with a bit of reality. Since I know this to be true of myself, it is especially important that I am slow to speak (James 1:19).

By prayerfully submitting my thoughts to the Holy Spirit, I want to glorify God in everything I do (Colossians 3:17). Thankfully, the older I get, the better I become at speaking the truth in love.

I need to love people as much as I love Truth. That day in the grocery store parking lot was a poor example of communicating the truth in love. Unfortunately, I cared more about the principle of proper parking than the person. That truth only served to put someone down for committing a wrong deed.

The right way to communicate truth is with a genuine concern for the other individual.

With this genuine concern for the other person, the right way to communicate a difficult truth is face to face. It’s easy to send an e-mail or leave a message on an answering machine. But it’s never appropriate to communicate criticisms or feelings of disappointment in these ways.

An e-mail is a one-way mode of communication. It’s like dropping a bomb and then hiding.

It takes courage to talk with someone face to face, and if a certain truth is important enough, then it should be done in a way that is courteous and respectful. Face to face is the right way to communicate a truth. And if that’s not possible, a phone conversation is next best.

But if neither of these ways are an option, then I would choose to wait until they are. It’s just too easy to misread a written word because, in an e-mail, we can never hear the tone in someone’s voice or see the expression on someone’s face.

What suggestions do you have for speaking the truth
at the right time and in the right way?

This series is a revised and expanded version of a singular post I wrote two years ago.

2 thoughts on “The Art of Telling the Truth Well – Part Four

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