Honesty | Character Strengths | VIA Institute

Become Aware Of Your Strength

Understand what honesty is all about so you can begin recognizing it in yourself and others.
What is Honesty?

When you are honest, you speak the truth. More broadly, you present yourself in a genuine and sincere way, without pretense, and taking responsibility for your feelings and actions. You are a person of integrity — you are who you say you are — and you act consistently across the domains of your life rather than being one way in the community and a completely different way in your family. As a result, you believe you are being consistently true to yourself.

This strength involves accurately representing your internal states, intentions, and commitments, both publicly and privately. The strength of honesty is often linked to self-concordance- the extent to which your goals accurately represent your implicit interests and values. Honesty allows people to take responsibility for their feelings and behaviors, owning them, and reaping benefits by doing so.

Which virtue is this strength?
Honesty is a strength within the virtue category of courage, one of six virtues that subcategorize the 24 strengths. Courage describes strengths that help you exercise your will and face adversity. The other strengths in Courage are bravery , honesty , perseverance , and zest .
What the Science Says

Research findings on the benefits of the strength of honesty found honest people are typically viewed as trustworthy, which contributes to healthy, positive relationships. Honesty is also linked to improved accuracy of your goals, reflecting your true values and interests. The Character Strength of Honesty allows for more accurate self-assessment of your competencies and motivations to others and to yourself.

Explore Your Strength

Reflect on how you’ve used honesty in the past, in everyday life and during special or critical times.

Questions to Help You Understand Your Strength Better
  • How well do you honor your commitments, agreements, and compromises in your personal and professional relationships?
  • How often do you neutralize guilt by making excuses, blaming, minimizing, or rationalizing the truth away? Are you aware of these processes when they are happening?
  • Who is one of your models of honesty? How might you improve on your own modeling of honesty to others?
Examples of this Strength in Action

Wondering about times that you may be using this strength? Here are a few examples of honesty at work in the world.

  • When someone asks for your honest opinion, give it to them (with a dose of kindness too).
  • When you are speaking with your co-workers, examine using speech that is direct, clear, specific communication.
  • Being honest with yourself. Naming a struggle, bad habit, or vice you have been avoiding then facing or talking about this dilemma.

Apply Your Strength

How can you make the most of honesty in your everyday life? In the moments that matter most? Here are some ideas.
  • The next time you are asked for advice, give constructive, direct and authentic feedback.
  • Honor your commitments in all of your relationships. If you agree to do something or schedule a time to meet with someone, be reliable and follow through.
  • Write about a community issue that you believe has not been dealt with directly and honestly. Consider sharing your writing with others.