A person should not be too honest. Straight trees are cut first and honest people are screwed first. – Chanakya

A person should not be too honest. Straight trees are cut first and honest people are screwed first.

Chanakya

Being honest is a desirable trait. There is no doubt about that. However, it is one virtue that must be put into practice with a hint of diplomacy.

Now some people may argue that honesty is said to be the best policy, and they are not entirely wrong in claiming so. However, instead of being analyzed in isolation, all proverbs need to be seen in the context of the bigger picture. The same goes for this well-known adage about honesty as well. You see, much like respect, honesty is also a two-way street. In other words, there is nothing virtuous or at least sensible about being upright with a dishonest person. Doing so will only cause you to make an utter fool of yourself, besides letting people around you know that they can take you for granted. Unless one is comfortable with this, honesty needs to be exercised with utmost caution and on a case-to-case basis.

Besides being flexible in your integrity based on the person you are dealing with, one’s behavior may also be suited to the situation at hand. For instance, no matter how righteous one’s boss is, it may not always be advisable to be frank with him about everything. In fact, one may need to be tactful under certain circumstances. Similarly, you may sometimes need to think twice about giving your honest opinion at work. This is obviously not how things should ideally be, but remember, the world we live in is far from ideal.

Chanakya, also popularly known as Kautilya or Vishnugupta, was an ancient Indian philosopher, diplomat and economist. His sayings in the field of politics are held in high esteem. He once remarked: “A person should not be too honest. Straight trees are cut first and honest people are screwed first.”