New poll: Are you always honest with the client?

by Douglas Gibb on September 1, 2010

Sometimes, the client just wants to be told what they want to hear.

Are you always truthful with them? Do you answer them honestly, or do you indulge them?

Whenever you’ve been asked if the husband is cheating on the wife, or if the father is really stealing money from the mother, or if they will be able to pay their debt, or whether or not they will get married, or pregnant, or whatever — are you always honest?

I’m not.

There, I admitted it.

There are plenty of times I get asked questions that I know the client doesn’t want the answer to. A lot of factors come into play on how I deal with these questions; some of them ethical, some of them unethical. I have to decide what the consequences are; I have to make sure they’re not vulnerable and I also have to consider the financial implications of telling them the truth.

How many times have you fallen into the trap of being honest only to find out that you’ve lost a client — what about the negative press afterward and the impact on your business?

There are also plenty of ethical reasons for why you won’t answer a client’s question — how vulnerable they are being one of them.

Although, at first glance, it seems that you should always tell the truth, it’s my experience that this doesn’t always help either the client, or you.

I’m asking this poll to see where the Tarot community stands on this issue. Do you always tell the truth? Are you always ethical, or are you basing your decisions on something other than ethics?

Are you always honest with the client?

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19 comments… Let's discuss

Velvet Angel September 1, 2010 at 3:31 pm

My stance on this matter is that, while some people only want to hear what they want to hear, this really will not help them when the Tarot is there to offer genuine guidance that can assist one on his/her path. I don’t base my responses on whether or not a client will return because they didn’t get to hear a peaches and roses story . . . I base my responses on the truth of what I find in the cards, along with the guidance to help the client move beyond the struggle. The fact is, people really should not get a Tarot reading unless they do want to hear the truth. A Tarot reading should be a tool to empower the client to make the best decisions possible for their life — and while it’s always so much more fun (for both reader and client) to deliver happy news, that is not always the case for all situations. I prefer to offer the truth of what I see in the cards. We can still render a reading with a gentle touch, even when the news is not happy. If we avoid the truth in a reading in hopes the client will keep returning, we do them no favors in my humble opinion. But by gleaning the truth from the cards, we are better equipped to help a client with their situation. We won’t always be popular for telling the truth, but we can also know that we did right to be honest.


Austriana September 1, 2010 at 9:17 pm


Well, being a newbie who at the moment only reads for friends and not for money I have never been in a position where I was forced to decide between the truth and a white (or not so white) lie.

The thing is … I think in certain circumstances I might HAVE TO lie. I did a reading for a friend who is pregnant with triplets and while the cards were all good I am 100% sure that if there had been any indications of anything being wrong I would never ever have told her so. Because I think that self fulfilling prophecies are a dangerous thing ….

So I voted for “I bend the truth for ethical reasons” because even if I haven’t yet I know I would.



Ethony* September 2, 2010 at 2:16 am

Sometimes you have to bend the truth for ethical reasons. I was taught by an amazing woman who made sure we all knew how important our words can be. If someone comes to you and they think their partner is cheating or they have sever health issues you have to be very careful about what you say. I never lie, ever, but I have kept some information from people and suggested that they actually address their issues.


Rachel C. September 2, 2010 at 6:56 am

Not too long ago, I had a client book a reading and ask “When will Doug and I get married, buy a house and start a family?”, immediately I turned around to my partner and said, “this woman is in love with a married man and is convinced he’s her soulmate.”

Just the same, I read the cards based on her question and answered her question based on what the cards turned up. Essentially she had a lot of personal work to do before she was going to settle down in a fulfilling relationship, and though a healthy and happy relationship was in the cards for her she needed to focus on her own home fires a bit first. I offered her advice on what areas she could become more active in and explained how this would help attract her lover to her, and reiterated once again that she needed to focus her attention on herself rather than her relationship.

Within 24 hours she responded saying she hopes that what I saw manifests because Doug is married to another woman but she’s convinced he is her soulmate. Did I lie? No Would I have told her something different if she had been forthcoming about her relationship with Doug? No, because I already knew it without her telling me so. On an ethical level I’m not so keen on telling a woman how to woo a married man away from his wife, but I don’t necessarily believe that’s what I did here. I told a woman to refocus her attention on herself and it would lead to a healthy and happy relationship – never said it was with Doug, just that it was happy and healthy.

Clients are going to hear what they want regardless, even when it’s spelled out in an email reading.


Cher Green September 2, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Great post and comments. Skirting around the truth is sometimes necessary. Give the client the puzzle pieces and allow them to put them together.

I had a client recently that needed to know how to fix their financial problems. The answer was very clear but I knew (even long distance) that if I gave a direct answer to what needed to go from her life, it may cause her to hang on tighter. So, I skirted around it, and gave the advice the cards revealed, leaving out the direct cause. A few days later, she wrote me back revealing the direct cause herself and through some decisions that did not all belong to her, movement forward was made.

Direct truths do not always work. If you tell the client she needs to leave the man she’s with, chances are she won’t. But if you tell her she needs to take control over her life, the leaving may come as a result.


lionel September 12, 2010 at 8:29 am

Very good advice here. In a pinch I often backup to what the cards say and let them form their own interpretations – Tarot has a knack for bringing people around to the truth without any extra fussing by us opinionated readers :)

Awesomely put.


mzzlee September 5, 2010 at 10:11 pm

I share the *truth* that i see in the cards. When it comes to aspects of the reading that may involve my opinion, or my recommendations, I certainly tread quite gently and slowly so that the client can leave the reading feeling their own power and perhaps some positive energy for moving forward. Telling the *truth* as I see it vis a vis the cards, and telling the *truth* of my full opinion are two different things. I always tell what I see in the cards. I always balance my opinion so as to offer a reading that is compassionate and helpful.


Amy September 7, 2010 at 8:21 pm

I agree with mzzlee, in that I’ll state what I see in the cards, but be careful about revealing my own opinions (and believe me, I have opinions). I think it’s unethical to outright lie (or withhold the truth by omission) to people who are coming to you for a service that is based on self-discovery and truth. Granted, there are a lot of people who do want to hear certain things, and only those things – but it’s not my job to tell them those. My job is to help them, and the first step to moving forward is facing the truth. All I can do is reveal it tactfully, and offer guidance (especially when the news is not so good).


Merrlina September 9, 2010 at 3:19 pm


This is a great question! I always pass along what I get. Does that mean the person who I am reading for hears what I say? Not always because they only hear what they want to hear. I have a client who has been with me for about 5 years now off and on. During the last year she kept asking the same question, just phrased differently over and over when she asked for a reading. Each time the reading was the same answer, however in her interpertaion of the reading her knight in shining armour was going to swoop in and take her away from her current situation. Each time the cards indicated that no knight was coming and that it was up to her to tidy up her life. She was responsible. I have found with many clients that they hear differently and interpurt the reading to be what they want to have happen. For this reason I always give what I get, am truthful with compassion and the client walks away with the answers for the moment which often they hear at a later date when they are ready to really know the answers. It is a matter of the client being ready to hear the answers to their questions, when the time is right the reading will be there for them to discern what to do.



Nathara September 10, 2010 at 5:07 pm

I always tell my clients the truth, though I have a standing policy that if they don’t want me to, all they have to do is tell me ahead of time. So far no one’s used that policy, though.

However, I have been known to refocus a reading on occasion, especially when the client isn’t getting the answer they want. For instance, if a relationship isn’t going to work out, I’ll focus on why that’s better for them and what they can do to work towards and even better relationship in the future. I try to leave all my readings on a positive note and give my clients a sense of hope and power over their futures.


lionel September 12, 2010 at 8:09 am

Hey Doug!

Interesting and honest article. Fascinating, actually!

I am always Honest, but I preserve certain boundaries. I will tell them up front an answer should be taken very lightly if its about something serious – I joke around and lighten the mood for that. I also extensively use rephrasing to breach difficult topics before they become difficult.

“Am I being cheated on?” becomes “What can you do if you are being cheated on?” then after pulling the card, I pull ANOTHER card for “Ok seriously Tarot, am I being cheated on?”

This way, they are ready for anything – Whenever possible, use Tarot to equip them with the tools to handle ANY truth!


Gabina September 13, 2010 at 6:07 pm

Querents most of the times just want to hear a fairy tale, in wich they are the main character, and even if you tell them how to get the happy ending they wont listen simply because is not what they want to hear, they want the wheel of fortune type of good luck, no efforts requiered just plain good luck.
Here is the example:

A while ago I did a reading for a woman who was in love with a divorced man she met online. They met in person and went intimate on the first date. Later on he asked my client some time off, because he needed all of his free time to prepare for a possible big promotion on his job.
Her question basically was if he would contact her after that month.
My reading showed this man only cared for his children and career at the moment and was not really thinking in having a relationship, but also showed him to be an honest person with his feet on the ground. While I saw her very desperate, pushy and needy. I saw him getting his promotion, but I didnt really saw him been with her.
Obviously I didnt tell her “hey he will be happy ..just not with you!” I adviced her to trust him, relax and respect his need of space, and to take that time off to improve herself and show him she is an independent mature woman.

I was been honest with her about changing her ways, and also adviced her on what she needed to do if she wanted him to stay around.
But yes, she was REALLY desperate and she didnt follow my advice, so after 2 months she returned for another reading, just this time things were going very bad, he asked her to stop contacting him altogether, no calls, no text messages, no msn, no facebook.. NOTHING!
This time my reading showed he is planing to dump her out of his life and never speak to her again.
I couldnt help it, and I told her what I saw, but she didnt take it so well, she got very upset with me and told me that reading was just what I think and it was just MY opinion but by any means is the truth because he loves her.
I didnt reply anything and understood why this man wants her out of his life..


Kerstin September 17, 2010 at 1:45 pm

I do tend to share the truth I see with the client, as they are paying me for the answer, but I also share with them how to view that answer from a high/deep enough perspective that empowers them. I find that the truth changes with perspective, just like a map. Helping the client keep their head above water so to speak, and make the best choices, regardless of the circumstances, is what I think a good reading accomplishes. That allows freedom to share exactly what you see, and allows the freedom then for the client to choose other paths rather than feel stuck or be shocked.

It’s also important to remember, as a few people here have mentioned, to not judge and have an opinion on what is good or bad to the client’s ears. I’ve had one occasion when I saw the long-term partner of a client having an affair, only to have the client react with actual relief on hearing the news, saying: “Wonderful! Now I don’t have to feel guilty about mine!” :)


Darlene September 19, 2010 at 9:13 am

“Tell all the Truth but tell it slant”

Emily Dickinson’s poem is the most apt guidance for any of us as readers. We’re interpreters of a given moment’s circumstance – the fall of the cards – partners in the process with them.

The openness (or not) of the seeker’s heart will have far more impact on their experience than any small deceptions we might perform – they’ll hear what they want to hear. And of course, the very definition of Truth itself is subject to wide interpretation.

I’ve never been against consciously bending the truth for ethical reasons. We’re already doing so, filtering as we are the images and story before us through our own experiences, reality, and unconsciousness.


Douglas Gibb September 22, 2010 at 1:38 pm

Hi Darlene,

I really like your connection to Emily Dickinson’s poem – and I agree, “the openness of the seeker’s heart will have far more impact on their experience than any small deception we might perform” :D


Candace November 15, 2010 at 4:43 pm

I am always honest with clients. sometimes they dont like what they hear, but i always try to offer them other options and get them to focus on things that they hadnt thought about before. Even if its not quite what they want to hear, i try to leave them feeling better than they were when they came to me for a reading.


The Magician Reversed January 11, 2011 at 8:33 pm

I am only starting to learn the ways of tarot, but I think I would ask them to consider asking a different question, or to phrase it differently. I would explain that the cards don’t necessarily give yes/no answers, but guidance. Perhaps if the person asked “I have worries about my partner, what advice can you give?” the advice given would be more productive and useful.


Elise March 2, 2012 at 3:29 pm

Hi Everybody,

A woman I know reads palms. She read someone’s palm and saw that they were going to have a car crash, but she decided not to tell them so as not to scare them. Anyway, the person did have a car crash, and was very lucky not to die, but lost a leg. So the palm reader thought that even if it scares you, you must always hear the truth. If she had spoken the truth, would the person have driven more carefully?

At the beginning of each reading I explain that I always and only say exactly what I see, and that’s my promise to the subject, and they have to agree to that. However, I agree fully with the other people on this page, that people only see and hear what they want to see and hear.

A case in point: I just gave a tarot reading to a woman who couldn’t accept that she had been dumped, and wanted to know what to say to her lover when they next met. The cards CLEARLY showed that it was time for her to move on, in several places, and I explained that really carefully, however, her question for the “bonus 3 card-spread for guidance” was: “Should I call him tonight or tomorrow?”

The truth is my undertaking to the client. In any event, I enjoy telling the absolute, unadulterated truth. When other than a Tarot reading do you have the opportunity to do that?



Elise May 1, 2012 at 11:47 am


Sorry to monopolise this board but…

I recently did an e-mail reading for a woman who admittedly said that she was very depressed. I told her at the start that I don’t lie with my cards and went ahead with the reading. There were some dark moments in there, but that was how she was feeling, and I was as helpful to her and kind as possible, without down-playing the core message.

She replied by saying that I was cruel and heartless and that “dying now would be alright” and that was it. Of course I e-mailed her back immediately but since have heard nothing from her.

I put a message out to the other readers in the circle (you know who you are! Hi you guys!) and she has apparently asked one of them to do a reading for her recently, so: she lives.

Scary times. But it won’t stop me from being honest.


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