Honesty (quotes)


Honesty is telling the truth

  • Honesty is more than not lying. It is truth telling, truth speaking, truth living, and truth loving. James E. Faust
  • Honest: Free of deceit and untruthfulness.  Oxford Dictionary
  • Honesty refers to a facet of moral character and connotes positive and virtuous attributes such as integrity, truthfulness and straightforwardness along with the absence of lying, cheating or theft. Wikipedia
  • IntegrityTruthTrustLyingDeceitVirtueMorality and ethics

Honesty is a virtue in short supply


Honesty is one of the greatest virtues and measures of character…

  • I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man. George Washington
  • Truth and Honesty is the oldest and most powerful of all of the human values. Gary King
  • The true measure of life is not length, but honesty. John Lyly
  • No legacy is so rich as Honesty. William Shakespeare
  • Deal honestly and objectively with yourself; intellectual honesty and personal courage are the hallmarks of great character. Brian Tracy
  • Virtue

… for it takes courage and strength to tell the truth

  • The truth is the only thing worth having, and, in a civilized life, like ours, where so many risks are removed, facing it is almost the only courageous thing left to do. V. Lucas
  • It takes strength and courage to admit the truth. Rick Riordan
  • The simple step of a courageous individual is not to take part in the lie. “One word of truth outweighs the world.” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
  • CourageStrengthTruth

Unfortunately, honesty has become something of a rarity

  • Honesty is as rare as a man without self-pity. Stephen Vincent Benet
  • It is discouraging how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit. Noel Coward
  • Truth is such a rare thing, it is delightful to tell it. Emily Dickinson
  • Tis my opinion every man cheats in his own way, and he is only honest who is not discovered. Susannah Centlivre
  • Honesty: The best of all the lost arts. Mark Twain

The rewards of honesty


Being honest and truthful allows you to live with integrity

  • Integrity is telling myself the truth. And honesty is telling the truth to other people. Spencer Johnson
  • Your integrity begins with you. If you are not true to yourself, how can you be true to others? John Wooden
  • Truth allows you to live with integrity. Everything you do and say shows the world who you really are. Let it be the Truth. Oprah Winfrey
  • Have the courage to say No. Have the courage to face the Truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity. Clement Stone
  • Just being honest is not enough. The essential ingredient is executive integrity. Philip Crosby
  • With integrity you have nothing to fear, since you have nothing to hide. With integrity you will do the right thing, so you will have no guilt. With fear and guilt removed you are free to be and do your best. Zig Ziglar
  • The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be. Socrates
  • Integrity

Honesty is a cornerstone to success

  • Honesty is the most single most important factor having a direct bearing on the final success of an individual, corporation, or product. Ed Mcmahon
  • Honesty is the cornerstone of all success, without which confidence and ability to perform shall cease to exist. Mary Kay Ash
  • Each time you are honest and conduct yourself with honesty, a success force will drive you toward greater success. Each time you lie, even with a little white lie, there are strong forces pushing you toward failure. Joseph Sugarman
  • I have found that being honest is the best technique I can use. Right up front, tell people what you’re trying to accomplish and what you’re willing to sacrifice to accomplish it. Lee Iacocca
  • Every man should make up his own mind that if he expect to succeed, he must give an honest return for the other man’s dollar. Edward H. Harriman
  • Success

Honesty builds trust which is the glue in human relationships

  • Truth builds trust. Marilyn Suttle
  • Love is honesty. Love is a mutual respect for one another. Simone Elkeles
  • Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters. Albert Einstein
  • The highest compact we can make with our fellow is – “Let there be truth between us two forevermore.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Don’t spoil me with your lies, love me with your truth. F. Hodge
  • As important in a trusting relationship as the truths you share are the lies you never have to tell. Robert Brault
  • An honest man’s word is as good as his bond. Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
  • I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you. Friedrich Nietzsche
  • Trust

Honesty and trust is also the soul of business

  • Honesty is the soul of business. Dutch Proverb
  • Would you want to do business with a person who was 99% honest? Sydney Madwed
  • I believe fundamental honesty is the keystone of business. Harvey S. Firestone

Here are yet more rewards of honesty

  • Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom. Thomas Jefferson
  • Live and breathe the truth. It’s the most positive, stress-free way to live, because the truth always reveals itself eventually anyway.   Marc and Angel Chernoff
  • Truth fears no questions.
  • The truth brings with it a great measure of absolution, always. D. Laing
  • A lie will easily get you out of a scrape, and yet, strangely and beautifully, rapture possesses you when you have taken the scrape and left out the lie. Charles Edward Montague
  • Honest hearts produce honest actions. Brigham Young
  • Honesty is something you can’t wear out. Waylon Jennings
  • Honesty is the best image. Ziggy
  • Only good comes from being honest and true. Only harm and suffering cone from falsehood.  It doesn’t always feel as if good comes from truth and honesty, but, in the long run, it does. Jonathan Lockwood Huie
  • The elegance of honesty needs no adornment. Merry Browne
  • The truth needs so little rehearsal. Barbara Kingsolver
  • Speak the truth. Give whatever you can.  Never be angry. These three steps will lead you into the presence of the gods.  Buddha

Reasons why honesty is the best policy


Telling the truth is often said to be the best policy

  • Honesty’s the best policy. Miguel de Cervantes
  • Honesty is the best policy. If I lose mine honor, I lose myself. William Shakespeare
  • Honesty is always the best policy, even when it’s not the trend. Sean Covey
  • Honesty is better than any policy. Immanuel Kant
  • For every good reason there is to lie, there is a better reason to tell the truth. Bo Bennett
  • Why lie? When truth is the easier path?  Ellen Hopkins
  • It is my belief… that the truth is generally preferable to lies. K. Rowling
  • Don’t ever regret being honest. Period. Taylor Swift
  • Honesty is not the best policy – merely the safest.
  • When in doubt, tell the Truth. Mark Twain

Telling the truth is also the right thing to do

  • The trite saying that honesty is the best policy has met with the just criticism that honesty is not policy. The real honest man is honest from conviction of what is right, not from policy. Robert E. Lee
  • Honesty is a question of right and wrong, not a matter of policy.
  • If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it. Marcus Aurelius
  • Right speechRight action

Telling the truth makes far less demands on your memory

  • If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything. Mark Twain
  • No man has a good enough memory to make a successful liar. Abraham Lincoln
  • Tell the truth. That way you don’t have to remember a story. John Wooden
  • It is not without good reason said, that he who has not a good memory should never take upon him the trade of lying. Michel de Montaigne
  • Memory

Telling the truth will set you free

  • The truth shall set you free. Bible
  • Chase after truth like hell and you’ll free yourself, even though you never touch its coat-tails. Clarence Darrow
  • The pursuit of truth shall set you free – even if you never catch up with it. Clarence Darrow
  • The truth that makes men free is for the most part the truth which men prefer not to hear. Herbert Agar
  • The truth will set you free. But before it does, it might make you angry.  Jerry Joiner
  • The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you. David Foster Wallace
  • The Truth which has made us free will in the end make us glad, also. Felix Adler
  • Freedom

There is a saying that honesty pays…

  • It pays to be honest, but it’s slow pay. Proverb
  • Honesty doesn’t always pay, but dishonesty always costs. Michael Josephson
  • While it pays to be honest you are often a long time collecting. Proverb
  • It pays to be honest, but it’s slow pay. Proverb

… although some disagree

  • If all mankind were suddenly to practice honesty, many thousands of people would be sure to starve. Georg Christoph Lichtenberg
  • Honesty is for the most part less profitable than dishonesty. Plato
  • Honesty is the rarest wealth anyone can possess, and yet all the honesty in the world ain’t lawful tender for a loaf of bread. Josh Billings
  • Honesty is praised and starves. Juvenal
  • Honesty is a good thing, but it is not profitable to its possessor unless it is kept under control. Don Marquis

A lie has speed but honesty has endurance

  • A lie has speed, but truth has endurance. Edgar J. Mohn
  • A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to put its pants on. Winston Churchill
  • A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes. Mark Twain
  • It pays to be honest, but it’s slow pay. Proverb
  • While it pays to be honest you are often a long time collecting. Proverb
  • Deceit is in haste, but honesty can wait a fair leisure. Proverb
  • Honesty is something you can’t wear out. Waylon Jennings
  • A lie may take care of the present, but it has no future.
  • Lying

The cost of lies


Lies weaken us  …

  • The truly scary thing about undiscovered lies is that they have a greater capacity to diminish us than exposed ones. They erode our strength, our self-esteem, our very foundation. Cheryl Hughes
  • Lose your temper and you lose a friend; lie and you lose yourself. Hopi Adage
  • If you tell the truth, you have infinite power supporting you; but if not, you have infinite power against you. Charles Gordon
  • He that loseth his honesty hath nothing else to lose. John Lyly
  • Weakness

… and have consequences

  • Every lie has a consequence…..you cannot escape that. Gary King
  • There is no such thing as an inconsequential lie.  Gary King
  • Yeah, it never fails to amaze me how a single lie can undo an entire lifetime of good. Sherrilyn Kenyon
  • Consequences

Lies often lead to a tangled web of more lies

  • Oh, what a tangled web we weave…when first we practice to deceive. Walter Scott
  • The biggest consequence to telling a lie is, it leads you to telling another one. Gary King
  • It is always better to tell the truth because you stay clean that way. When you tell a lie, you live a lie forever. Not only that, you almost always have to cover it up with new lies. It is a cycle that never ends. Celestine Chua
  • Lying

Small lies often become big lies

  • Those who think it is permissible to tell white lies soon grow color-blind. Austin O’Malley
  • The least initial deviation from the truth is multiplied later a thousandfold. Aristotle

Tell a lie and you have to stay true to it

  • Worse than telling a lie is spending the rest of your life staying true to a lie. Robert Brault
  • With lies you may get ahead in the world – but you can never go back. Russian proverb

Lies create a separation between us and others

  • The Light is more than some abstract, unknowable energy force. Light is Truth. If Light is truth, then darkness must be lies. Each and every lie we tell to ourselves and others casts the shadow of separation upon us. Every time even the most minor deception is revealed and the truth is made known we are re-united with the Light. So, Let there be Light. Those are the words by which you can create your own magnificent world. Renee Bledsoe
  • To conceal anything from those to whom I am attached, is not in my nature. I can never close my lips where I have opened my heart. Charles Dickens

Often, we tell lies due to fear but our lies only fuel the fear

  • We tell lies when we are afraid… afraid of what we don’t know, afraid of what others will think, afraid of what will be found out about us. But every time we tell a lie, the thing that we fear grows stronger.  Tad Williams
  • I never lie because I don’t fear anyone. You only lie when you’re afraid.   John Gotti
  • Fear

Tell the truth but be kind too


Don’t always simply tell people what they want to hear…

  • Before speaking, consult your inner-truth barometer, and resist the temptation to tell people only what they want to hear. Wayne Dyer
  • Sometimes we guard people from the truth to protect them from being hurt, but by doing that we only hurt them more in the long run. Christina Pagliarulo
  • Nothing in this world is harder than speaking the truth, nothing easier than flattery. Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • Some people will not tolerate such emotional honesty in communication. They would rather defend their dishonesty on the grounds that it might hurt others. Therefore, having rationalized their phoniness into nobility, they settle for superficial relationships.

…but always be kind and compassionate when telling the truth

  • Keep the other person’s well being in mind when you feel an attack of soul purging truth coming on. Betty White
  • “Honesty” without compassion and understanding is not honesty, but subtle hostility. Rose N. Franzblau
  • Be silly. Be honest. Be kind. Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Today I bent the truth to be kind, and I have no regret, for I am far surer of what is kind than I am of what is true. Robert Brault
  • Honesty is the cruelest game of all, because not only can you hurt someone – and hurt them to the bone – you can feel self- righteous about it at the same time. Dave Van Ronk
  • This is a difficult balance, telling the truth: how much to share, how much to keep, which truths will wound but not ruin, which will cut too deep to heal. Ally Condie
  • Always telling the truth is no doubt better than always lying, although equally pathological. Robert Brault
  • KindnessCompassion

Always tell the truth with the right intent


You never need to be brutal with the truth

  • There is always a way to be honest without being brutal. Arthur Dobrin
  • People who are brutally honest get more satisfaction out of the brutality than out of the honesty. Richard J. Needham

Cherish honesty in others


Learn to respect the truth from others

  • Respect for the truth is an acquired taste. Mark Van Doren
  • Next to a sincere compliment, I think I like a well-deserved and honest rebuke. William Feather

In particular, cherish friends who tell you the truth – for they are true friends

  • A true friend will tell you the truth to your face – not behind your back. Sasha Azevedo
  • An honest answer is the sign of true friendship. Proverbs 24:26
  • There can be no friendship without confidence, and no confidence without integrity. Samuel Johnson
  • Cherish the friend who tells you a harsh truth, wanting ten times more to tell you a loving lie. Robert Brault
  • Friends are honest with each other. Even if the truth hurts. Sarah Dessen
  • A good friend can tell you what is the matter with you in a minute. He may not seem such a good friend after telling. Arthur Brisbane
  • Friendship

Be honest with yourself


Above all, be honest with yourself

  • The best thing that human beings can do for themselves is to always be absolutely, totally, and completely coming from an honesty with themselves, a total internal integrity. Adyashanti
  • Just be honest with yourself. That opens the door. Vernon Howard
  • Your only obligation in any lifetime is to be true to yourself. Richard Bach
  • Your integrity begins with you. If you are not true to yourself, how can you be true to others? John Wooden
  • The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you’re the easiest person to fool. Richard Feynman
  • The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently. Pema Chodron
  • If you do not tell the truth about yourself, you cannot tell it about other people. Virginia Woolf
  • To be true to yourself is to be yourself. Amy Harley
  • Sanity is to be found in accurate honesty to oneself. David Bain
  • This above all; to thine own self be true. William Shakespeare
  • Dishonest people conceal their faults from themselves as well as others, honest people know and confess them. Christian Nevell Bovee
  • How desperately difficult it is to be honest with oneself. It is much easier to be honest with other people. Edward White Benson
  • Nothing is so difficult as not deceiving oneself. Ludwig Wittgenstein
  • A man can never hope to be more than he is if he is not first honest about what he isn’t. Don Williams, Jr

… for often the worst lies are the ones we tell ourselves

  • The worst lies are the ones you tell yourself.
  • Every lie is two lies — the lie we tell others and the lie we tell ourselves to justify it. Robert Brault
  • Am I lying to you if I tell you the same lie I tell myself? Robert Brault
  • You can’t lie to your soul. Irvine Welsh
  • Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lies comes to such a pass that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, around him, and so loses all respect for himself and others. Fyodor Doestoyevsky

Being honest with yourself means being prepared to lose your illusions

  • The main trouble with being an honest man was that it lost you all your illusions. James Jones
  • Losing an illusion makes you wiser than finding a truth. Ludwig Borne
  • Sometimes people don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed. Friedrich Nietzsche
  • If anyone can show me, and convince me, that I have acted or thought in error, I will gladly change; for I seek truth, and no one was ever injured by the truth. But people injure themselves if they live with self- deception and ignorance.  Marcus Aurelius
  • Most men would rather deny a hard truth than face it. George R.R. Martin
  • Many people today don’t want honest answers insofar as honest means unpleasant or disturbing, They want a soft answer that turneth away anxiety. Louis Kronenberger
  • Illusion

Beware of half-truths and exaggerations


Realise that lies can also be told through silence

  • Lying is done with words and also with silence. Adrienne Rich
  • The cruelest lies are often told in silence. Robert Louis Stevenson

Beware of half truths

  • A half-truth is a whole lie. Yiddish Proverb
  • Half a truth is often a great lie. Benjamin Franklin
  • Beware of the half-truth. You may have gotten hold of the wrong half.
  • There are no whole truths; all truths are half-truths. It is trying to treat them as whole truths that plays the devil.  Alfred North Whitehead
  • When truth is divided, errors multiply. Eli Siegel

Beware too of stretching the truth for that can ruin it

  • When you stretch the truth, watch out for the snapback. Bill Copeland
  • If you want to ruin the truth, stretch it.
  • The most dangerous untruths are truths moderately distorted. Georg Christoph Lichtenberg
  • It is more from carelessness about truth than from intentionally lying that there is so much falsehood in the world. Samuel Johnson

Final thoughts


Telling the truth requires understanding and reflection

  • Telling the truth is not solely a matter of moral character; it is also a matter of correct appreciation of real situations and of serious reflection upon them. Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  • UnderstandingReflection

Children are often more honest than the rest of us

  • An honest man is always a child. Socrates
  • Pretty much all the honest truth telling in the world is done by children. Oliver Wendell
  • To make your children capable of honesty is the beginning of education. John Ruskin

Honesty doesn’t sit on the fence

  • Honesty is never seen sitting astride the fence. Lemuel K. Washburn
  • No honest man will argue on every side. Sophocles

There are those who are cynical about honesty

  • Often the surest way to convey misinformation is to tell the strict truth. Mark Twain
  • Truth is mighty and will prevail. There is nothing the matter with this, except that it ain’t so.   Mark Twain
  • There are people who think that honesty is always the best policy. This is a superstition; there are times when the appearance of it is worth six of it. Mark Twain
  • I would seriously question whether anybody is really foolish enough to really say what they mean. Sometimes I think that civilization as we know it would kind of break down if we all were completely honest. Elizabeth Hurley
  • Honesty is the best policy – when there is money in it. Mark Twain

Thoughts on computers and honesty

  • Part of the inhumanity of the computer is that, once it is competently programmed and working smoothly, it is completely honest. Isaac Asimov
  • Someday a computer will give a wrong answer to spare someone’s feelings, and man will have invented artificial intelligence. Robert Brault

Neale Donald Walsch talks about five levels of truth

  • The Five Levels of Truth-Telling: First, you tell the truth to yourself about yourself. Then you tell the truth to yourself about another. At the third level, you tell the truth about yourself to another. Then you tell your truth about another to that other. And finally, you tell the truth to everyone about everything. Neale Donald Walsch
  • Start telling the truth now and never stop. Begin by telling the truth to yourself about yourself.  Then tell the truth to yourself about someone else.  Then tell the truth about yourself to another. Then tell the truth about another to that other.  Finally, tell the truth to everyone about everything.  These are the five levels of truth telling.  This is the five- fold path to freedom.  Neale Donald Walsch

On a lighter note

  • A cynic is a person searching for an honest man with a stolen lantern. Edgar A. Shoaff
  • A good politician is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar. L. Mencken
  • A little inaccuracy sometimes saves tons of explanation. Saki
  • About the most originality that any writer can hope to achieve honestly is to steal with good judgment. Josh Billings
  • Accomplice: One who lacks brains as well as honesty.
  • Acting is all about honesty and if you can fake that you’ve got it made. George Burns
  • All I’ve ever wanted was an honest week’s pay for an honest day’s work. Steve Martin
  • Always tell the truth. Even if you have to make it up.
  • Ambassador: An honest man sent abroad to lie for the good of his country. Henry Wotton
  • An honest politician is one who, when he is bought, will stay bought.
  • Anybody who says they are a good liar obviously is not, because any legitimately savvy liar would always insist they’re honest about everything. Chuck Klosterman
  • Bogey: The number of strokes needed to finish a hole by a golfer of average skill and above-average honesty.
  • Dating: An elaborate prelude to mating that fulfills much the same function as the sniffing ritual in dogs but without its forthright honesty.
  • He’s so honest you can shoot dice with him on the telephone. Dan Rather
  • Hell hath no fury like a habitual liar disbelieved when telling the truth. Tiptree
  • Honest criticism is hard to take, particularly from a relative, a friend, an acquaintance, or a stranger. Franklin P. Jones
  • Honesty is a good thing, but it is not profitable to its possessor unless it is kept under control. Don Marquis
  • Honesty is the best policy – when there is money in it. Mark Twain
  • Honesty is the best policy, but insanity is a better defense.
  • Honesty pays but it doesn’t seem to pay enough to suit some people. Kin Hubbard
  • Honesty pays, but it doesn’t seem to pay enough to suit some people. Frank McKinney
  • Honesty: The fear of being caught.
  • I was walking along Adderley Street the other day with a honest politician and kind lawyer. We saw a $20 note in the gutter. Which of us do you think picked it up? Answer: Me! The other two do not exist.
  • It is always the best policy to tell the truth, unless, of course, you are an exceptionally good liar. Jerome K. Jerome
  • It takes two to lie. One to lie and one to listen. Homer Simpson
  • Ninety eight percent of the adults in this country are decent, hardworking, honest Americans. It’s the other lousy two percent that get all the publicity. But then, we elected them.  Lily Tomlin
  • Once a man wants to hold a public office, he is absolutely no good for honest work. Will Rogers
  • One of the most striking differences between a cat and a lie is that a cat has only nine lives. Mark Twain
  • Reality is bad enough. Why should I tell the truth?   Patrick Sky
  • Speak the truth but leave immediately after. Slovenian Proverb
  • Talking always gets in the way of a good honest conversation. Greg Vovos
  • The best measure of a man’s honesty isn’t his income tax return; it’s the zero adjust on his bathroom scale. Arthur C. Clarke
  • The great advantage about telling the truth is that nobody ever believes it. Dorothy L. Sayers
  • The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made. Groucho Marx
  • The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age. Lucille Ball
  • The truth may not set you free, but used carefully, it can confuse the hell out of your enemies. Laurell K. Hamilton
  • There’s one way to find out if a man is honest – ask him. If he says, “Yes,” you know he is a crook.   Groucho Marx
  • Truth is the most valuable thing we have, so I try to conserve it. Mark Twain
  • Yawn: an honest opinion openly expressed.