When we were young, we were taught to be honest. We learned that telling a lie was a big mistake, worthy of some punishment. Like most of you, at some point, in an effort to preserve my dignity or escape being scolded, I am certain I was punished. I can’t recall the infraction, but I know it happened because I was often reminded “You remember what happens when you lie.” Although I didn’t really remember, I knew it was not good and since then, I work to be honest. Even when giving feedback, I work to provide any negative comments gently, but truthfully. It is said that if we continue to lie, it gets easier and we feel less and less discomfort.
In mediation, I have found some individuals have only a casual relationship with the truth. Lying comes as easy as truthfulness. Mediating with such people, requires first helping them develop empathy for the other person, while they also learn to recognize how easy it is to move to protect our egos when threatened by not being truthful. It takes skill and self-understanding to guide a person back through the self-protective path that involves lying. Shaming, blaming, and name-calling are not effective in this healing process, but they are often the approaches of choice to confront a person who consistently lies.
If we are all to get back to living honestly with each other, compassion is the key. It is true in mediation, in relationships, and in how we see ourselves.