The Power of Honesty

The Power of Honesty

An important difference between persuasion and manipulation is that persuasion is done with people and manipulation is done to them.  Like all dishonest people, manipulators habitually underestimate the people they attempt to outmaneuver.  They overestimate their own skill at deception.  And, once discovered, the relational cost is usually high.


Over the long term, in most organizations the cost of lying is also a harsh one.  While honest people accumulate trust credits, in credibility terms liars and deceivers head for bankruptcy.  Why is it, then, that for many people the path of honesty appears so much more treacherous than the road of deceit?

As cognitive misers (which most people indeed are), we tend to take the path of least resistance, the one that allows us to exert as little thought effort as possible.  Moreover, several generations of Americans have been coached via celebrity-style news and political media coverage, television sitcoms, reality shows, to say nothing of friends and acquaintances who seem to get away with it, that lying is an effective form of behavior and honesty is only for suckers. 

Honesty suffers further by association with – when not an excuse for – uttering such harsh statements as  “Yes, you do look fat in that outfit” and “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve heard today.” 

Between such flagrant violations of civility and lying, though, there exists a wide range of largely overlooked options for being honest at many crucial and even everyday points of our lives.  The more we use the range, the wider and more accessible it becomes – and vice versa.

Aside from this and the moral upside of having honesty as a front line rather than back burner communication strategy, it’s “money in the bank” in terms of one’s personal and professional reputation.  While it doesn’t always pay instant rewards, honesty enables people to have conviction on their side.  And personal conviction is a powerful persuasive tool.  When you believe what you’re saying, it shows in every fiber of your being.

Granted, it’s one thing to desire to be an honest person -- and quite another to put in the hard work it takes to become “good” at it.  Parents and teachers counsel children to count to five or more before they say anything when angry.  Why don’t we train them (and ourselves) to slow-count before engaging in dishonesty?  For those who’ve become habitual liars, the task is a formidable one – but a turnaround is not impossible. 

Often increased honesty is simply a matter of stopping yourself, closing your mouth and saying nothing.  As Archie Bunker would say:  “Stifle!”  If stifling a lie makes you appear at fault, guilty, or disinterested, then using a phrase like one of these could prove helpful:

I want to be very clear about this, so I need a minute to think how to say it,”

or

You know I’m not the worlds’ best communicator, so give me a moment before I say this,

or

I could just blurt out my first thought, but that won’t get us anywhere.

Photo: Klublu/Shutterstock.com

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Credit: NASA / ESA via Getty Images
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This article was originally published on our sister site, Freethink.

An international team of astronomers has conducted the biggest survey of stellar nurseries to date, charting more than 100,000 star-birthing regions across our corner of the universe.

Stellar nurseries: Outer space is filled with clouds of dust and gas called nebulae. In some of these nebulae, gravity will pull the dust and gas into clumps that eventually get so big, they collapse on themselves — and a star is born.

These star-birthing nebulae are known as stellar nurseries.

The challenge: Stars are a key part of the universe — they lead to the formation of planets and produce the elements needed to create life as we know it. A better understanding of stars, then, means a better understanding of the universe — but there's still a lot we don't know about star formation.

This is partly because it's hard to see what's going on in stellar nurseries — the clouds of dust obscure optical telescopes' view — and also because there are just so many of them that it's hard to know what the average nursery is like.

The survey: The astronomers conducted their survey of stellar nurseries using the massive ALMA telescope array in Chile. Because ALMA is a radio telescope, it captures the radio waves emanating from celestial objects, rather than the light.

"The new thing ... is that we can use ALMA to take pictures of many galaxies, and these pictures are as sharp and detailed as those taken by optical telescopes," Jiayi Sun, an Ohio State University (OSU) researcher, said in a press release.

"This just hasn't been possible before."

Over the course of the five-year survey, the group was able to chart more than 100,000 stellar nurseries across more than 90 nearby galaxies, expanding the amount of available data on the celestial objects tenfold, according to OSU researcher Adam Leroy.

New insights: The survey is already yielding new insights into stellar nurseries, including the fact that they appear to be more diverse than previously thought.

"For a long time, conventional wisdom among astronomers was that all stellar nurseries looked more or less the same," Sun said. "But with this survey we can see that this is really not the case."

"While there are some similarities, the nature and appearance of these nurseries change within and among galaxies," he continued, "just like cities or trees may vary in important ways as you go from place to place across the world."

Astronomers have also learned from the survey that stellar nurseries aren't particularly efficient at producing stars and tend to live for only 10 to 30 million years, which isn't very long on a universal scale.

Looking ahead: Data from the survey is now publicly available, so expect to see other researchers using it to make their own observations about stellar nurseries in the future.

"We have an incredible dataset here that will continue to be useful," Leroy said. "This is really a new view of galaxies and we expect to be learning from it for years to come."

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  • The team at Clearspace, in collaboration with the European Space Agency, is on a mission to capture one such object using an autonomous spacecraft with claw-like arms. It's an expensive and very tricky mission, but one that could have a major impact on the future of space exploration.

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Catch more Just Might Work episodes on their channel:
https://www.freethink.com/shows/just-might-work

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