The problem with being brutally honest

Honesty is something which I value very highly. I understand that we all embellish stories from to time to time or that we often need to choose the more sensitive route when dealing with those whom we love, however, I tend to become really irritated when people avoid being honest just because it makes their life a little easier. As much as I value honesty, I dread cruelty and brutality. However, I have realised that, for some time in my life, I really prided myself on being brutally honest. Being brutally honest was like a badge of honour. I wore that badge as though I was a boy scout who had worked hard to please my group leader. I was often on the receiving end of stinging criticism for the feedback which I had offered but I could always fall back on my self-righteous defence – “I was only being honest” or even ” Why did you ask for my opinion if you didn’t want to hear the truth”. It was only after a period of reflection that the truth really dawned on me.

The problem with being brutally honest is that sometimes you enjoy the brutality more than the honesty.

My first reaction to this insight was to adopt a defensive position. However, once the idea had sunk in, I realised that I had, on several occasions, really enjoyed the brutality with which I had offered my feedback. Yes, the feedback which I offered may well have been factually correct but there were better ways to deliver it. I have, by being brutally honest, caused some hurt and upset to others. In most cases, no long-term harm was done but in some cases bridges were burned. I now know that I could have been more sensitive to the needs of others. I see it as a sign of maturity that I have now come to this realisation and I now strive to be more sensitive.

In recent times, when I am about to be brutally honest, I ask myself “Is this feedback motivated by honesty or brutality? This heightens my awareness and leads me to choose the more sensitive option. I don’t always catch myself before I express myself, but due to becoming more aware, I tend to quickly identify when I have been brutally honest and take action to remedy the situation.

Brutal honesty can be a form of passive aggressive problem. You can learn to tackle this problem with out guide to Tackling Passive Aggressive Behaviour.

Do you ever find yourself being brutally honest?
If so, how do you act to remedy the situation?