17 unmistakable signs of a truly honest person

“Honesty is the best policy”–you may have heard this one a million times, and for good reason.

Honesty is a virtue that is highly valued in our society. Being honest builds trust, strengthens relationships, and helps us live with integrity and decency. 

But what does it mean to be truly honest, and how can we identify the people that truly embody this value? 

In this article, we’ll explore 17 unmistakable signs of a truly honest person and offer tips for how you can cultivate honesty in your own life.

1) They speak the truth, even when it’s difficult

Here’s the thing: truly honest people don’t shy away from telling the truth, even if it’s uncomfortable or difficult. 

They’re the ones who will tell you that, yes, that shirt does make you look like a disco ball, but they’ll also help you find something that flatters your figure.

While out to lunch the other day, my friend’s outspoken 10-year-old boy proclaimed to me that I was overeating. 

Although initially taken aback, I realized he was wholeheartedly correct. I’m not getting any younger and eating too much won’t be doing my health many favors, moving forward! 

I appreciate the honesty, kid. 

2) They don’t embellish or exaggerate 

In my experience, honesty means being truthful and accurate, without embellishing or exaggerating the facts. 

They’re not the ones who claim to have climbed Mount Everest when they actually just went hiking in the foothills.

3) They admit their mistakes 

Another sign that someone is a truly honest person is if they take responsibility for their actions and are willing to admit when they’ve made a mistake

The honest person will confess to eating the last slice of pizza, but they’ll also offer to order another one.

4) They don’t gossip or spread rumors

That sense of responsibility extends to the way they deal with harmful or damaging gossip or rumors about others. 

In a nutshell, honest people don’t do that. 

They value other people’s privacy and they know just how disrespectful gossiping is. If there’s one thing they understand, it’s that words have impact. 

So they’re very careful about what they put out into the world. 

5) They keep their promises 

Speaking of the value of words, here’s another thing truly honest people do. They back up their words with action. 

They are reliable and trustworthy, and they follow through on their commitments. 

You can spot an honest person because they will show up on time, every time, and will rarely bail on you at the last minute. 

6) They don’t cheat or steal

Here’s what you should know: truly honest people have a strong moral compass guiding them. They believe in doing the right thing, even when no one’s looking. 

They understand that the world runs smoother when everyone plays fair and follows the rules. 

Plus, they know that if they were in someone else’s shoes, they wouldn’t want to be cheated or stolen from either. 

It’s all about treating others the way they’d like to be treated – the good old Golden Rule!

Besides, they care about their reputation, and they don’t want to be known as someone who’s dishonest or untrustworthy.

7) They don’t manipulate or deceive

This is another way that honest people show their integrity. In their book, manipulation and deception are big no-nos. 

You need not worry about an honest person lying to you to get what they want. They’ll also never use guilt or shame to manipulate you.

Instead, they are upfront about what they want, as the next section shows…

8) They are transparent about their intentions

When you’re inherently honest, you are open and clear about your motives and intentions, without hidden agendas. 

They will tell you straight up that they’re not interested in dating you, but they’ll also be honest about why. 

Don’t worry about an honest person leading you on. They’re truthful from the get-go. 

9) They listen actively and empathetically

Another thing you’ll find truly honest people doing is being willing to listen to new perspectives and feelings, without judgment or defensiveness. 

The honest individual will listen to your problems and offer support, and if the situation calls for it, they’ll even call you out when you’re being irrational.

10) They are respectful and kind

Truly honest people can listen empathetically because of this one other thing – they treat others with respect and kindness, even in difficult situations. 

They’re nice enough to hold the door open for you. Yet when you’re in the wrong, they’ll also stand up for what’s right and speak out against injustice.

11) They admit when they don’t know something

Aside from empathy, respect, and kindness, humility is another thing truly honest people have in heaps. They are willing to admit when they don’t have all the answers. 

They have no shame in saying “I don’t know” when asked a question. And they’ll also be eager to learn and find out new things.

12) They are willing to apologize

Humility also enables to apologize when they’ve hurt someone, without making excuses or blaming others. 

They’ll own up to their mistakes and offer a sincere apology, and they’ll do their best to make it right.

13) They don’t engage in flattery or false praise 

Ever had someone compliment you, but you came away feeling like it was insincere?

You won’t feel that way with truly honest people. Right away, you can tell they’re sincere. They offer real feedback and compliments, without resorting to parasitic flattery or false praise. 

They may not call you Whitney Houston when you sound like a cat being strangled but don’t worry, they’ll also never tear you down or make you feel small.

14) They value integrity over popularity

Here is another thing: they’re straightforward about what they want in life. 

They prioritize integrity and honesty over popularity or social status. 

Honest people who will stand up for what they believe in, even if it means going against the crowd, but they’ll also never be fake or insincere just to fit in.

They’d rather stay true to themselves and their values than sacrifice their authenticity for the sake of being liked by others.

15) They are consistent in their behavior

They’re not just honest when it suits them either. They are honest through and through, every single time. 

They are consistent in their words and actions, without contradicting themselves or changing their story with each telling. 

These are the type of people that will always say what they mean and mean what they say. They’ll also never be wishy-washy or indecisive.

16) They respect others’ privacy

Remember what I said about the Golden Rule? That applies here as well. 

Real honest folks respect others’ boundaries and privacy, without prying or being intrusive. 

They won’t snoop through your phone or read your diary. Nosy or invasive are foreign concepts to the honest person.

Again, they simply treat people with respect, just the way they would like to be treated themselves. 

17) They don’t engage in self-deception

Lastly, here’s what a truly honest person does – they aren’t honest just with other people. They also face the truth about themselves. 

They acknowledge their weaknesses and work to improve them, and they’ll also rarely ever be delusional or arrogant about their abilities.


Honesty is a crucial value that can help us build trust, strengthen relationships, and live with integrity. When you’re honest, you’ll inevitably gain the respect of many. 

By embodying these 17 unmistakable signs of a truly honest person, we can become role models for others and create a better world for ourselves and those around us. 

So let’s make honesty a cornerstone of our personal and professional lives, and let’s strive to be honest, transparent, and truthful in all our words and actions. 

Picture of Daniel Mabanta

Daniel Mabanta

Daniel Mabanta is a freelance writer and editor, entrepreneur and an avid traveler, adventurer and eater. He lives a nomadic life, constantly on the move. He is currently in Manila, Philippines and deciding where his next destination will be.

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