Is your friend fuming because you disappointed them for the 100th time? Are you running late again? Did you tell an itsy-bitsy “white lie”?

The Torah says to distance yourself from falsehood. Here are 11 ways to do it:

  1. Never promise anything! You think that’s bad for business? DoNever promise anything! you think that’s not a good strategy for your relationship? It’s infinitely better than breaking your promise. There is no way that you can take every possible mitigating circumstance into account. So just don’t promise. Especially to young children, as they are less likely to understand if you don’t keep your word, and it will erode their sense of trust.
  2. Budget more time/money/energy (fill in the blank) than you think you’re going to need. How much more? About 10 percent to 30 percent, depending on how much you tend to underestimate.
  3. Don’t tell a white lie. Or a blue one or a green one. Lies are colorblind. And they teach you and anyone hearing you to lie.
  4. Learn to say “no.” Many people commit to things they know they won’t be able to do because they’re afraid to say no. It’s better to say no a priori than to later not be able to keep your commitment.
  5. Write every single thing you commit to in your diary. You made a dentist appointment? Write it down. You made a date with a friend or an appointment with a colleague? Write it down. You promised to pick something up for someone or buy them a present? Write it down. You said it? Record it. And then, of course, look at your diary.
  6. Think before you speak. I know that everyone knows that, but few people actually do it. When we speak, we often say things we regret. And then we have to work hard to undo them. Take a deep breath and let your mind scan the consequences of what you’re about to say before you actually do.
  7. Don’t overuse figurative language. If you say it was 200 degrees outside today, no one will think you’re being precise. Everyone understands that people like to be colorful and funny when they talk, and that’s fine. But if you are in the habit of exaggerating or using other kinds of figurative language too often (and you’re not a scriptwriter), it can become a problem with your credibility.
  8. If you’re a person who tends to be late, set your watch ahead the number of minutes to compensate for being behind time-wise.
  9. Speak with integrity. If you’re describing a situation or telling a story that happened, make certain that every detail you are recounting is true. Don’t embroider the story to make it more interesting or to put yourself in a better light.
  10. Distance yourself from people who are untruthful. There are people who are pathological liars. They are often very charming and appear very sincere, but they will almost never keep their word, whatever it is. If you know such people, stay away from them. Everyone can make a mistake once in a while; life happens, and people will disappoint you. However, if this happens more than a couple of times, that’s a flashing red light. Stop, turn around and go the other way. Also don’t believe people who repeatedly lie to you aboutDon’t believe people who repeatedly lie to you about their intentions their intentions: a boss who promises a raise or promotion and doesn’t deliver; a person you’re dating who says, of course, you’ll get married someday (in the unidentified future).
  11. Read the fine print, literally and figuratively. Make sure that you understand the conditions of every deal, negotiation, agreement or purchase you make, every contract you sign and every commitment you undertake. This is especially important if it involves other people who are relying on you. Go over the terms and put them in writing, leaving no room for ambiguity or doubt, and then you can avoid litigation as well as lying.

The last letter of each of the first three words in the Torah spell emet (“truth”). That’s G‑d’s signature. The first letter, the last letter and the middle letter of the Hebrew alphabet also spell emet (“truth”). All of our utterances must be true. In the Amidah prayer, three times a day, Jews say, “May the expressions of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart find favor before You.” Of course, we must avoid hurting people with too much “truth.” But so much more pain is caused when we fail to honor our words and our commitments.

And that’s the honest truth.