Banishing Brutal Honesty


You’ve heard the cringeworthy saying “brutal honesty.” There are those who believe these words give them permission to say whatever the heck they want, and if it’s brutal, well, you needed to hear it. After all, the only way you’ll pay attention is if the message is brutal, right?

I’m not a fan. I think folks use “brutal honesty” as an excuse to be rude or unkind or worse. Brutal honesty says more about the person delivering the message or opinion than it does about the receiver.

We can’t make anyone listen to us. We all have friends who seek our advice, over and over on the same topic, and then continue doing what they want, as if our input wasn’t heeded. And that’s ok! We don’t need to elevate our input to brutal levels. Are we really heard and understood when we are being harsh?

Why not try compassionate honesty? Deliver your message compassionately and honestly with the best of intentions. Be kind. Be understanding. And know that if your input wasn’t received the way you wanted it to, that’s fine. That person is on their own path, so bless their journey and continue to be kind. And if they bring up the issue again and again, you can kindly say, “You are wise and I know you’ll make the best decision.”

It can be frustrating when people don’t understand what we are communicating. Remember that angry, unkind, brutal words can be remembered for a lifetime and negatively impact a person forever. Also remember that our acts of kindness, grace and compassion can touch a heart, and certainly make us better citizens of the planet.

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