How To Be Brutally Honest?

How To Be Brutally Honest?

“Oftentimes, hard truths can feel as painful to tell as they are to hear. In fact, how many times have you suppressed the truth to spare someone from the pain of hearing it? Or, you have used a white lie to save both of you from the pain, the embarrassment and the fear of dealing with the truth. Umm…well, I have done that too. But, I have to be brutally honest here. And, yes, you may not like it.”


How To Be Brutally Honest?


Isn’t it a bit scary? Think of it. You have to tell the truth, the real, brutal, raw truth to someone. And you don’t know how they will react. They may not even want to hear the truth. But how will you feel if you have to tell your best friend that they have been cheated on, or honestly tell your colleague that their idea sucks, or tell your partner that they are about to make a big mistake with that decision, or write an article that may shock your readers and tell them things that they may not want to hear. The thought of hurting people is scary. You don’t want to do that. Don’t want to make them feel miserable just because you’ve told them the truth that they may not like. What if they get upset or offended? Or worse, they may think that you are a jerk and may cut off all communications with you. Of course, you don’t want that. So, isn’t it just better to keep it to yourself?

Oftentimes, hard truths can feel as painful to tell as they are to hear. In fact, how many times have you suppressed the truth to spare someone from the pain of hearing it? Or, you have used a white lie to save both of you from the pain, the embarrassment and the fear of dealing with the truth. Umm…well, I have done that too. But, I have to be brutally honest here. And, yes, you may not like it. But the truth is if you struggle to be frank with people, especially when you know that this is for their best interest, you need to hear this. Because I promise, it will make you a better communicator, a better person above all, and a better blogger if you wish.

You are a coward.

Withholding the truth from people isn’t doing them any good. Even if it is difficult for them to hear, you are not doing them a favor. Instead, you are protecting yourself! Yes, you coward, you are saving your ass from facing the consequences of your honesty. Now, you may try to convince yourself that it is just “nicer” to hide some things or to keep them for yourself only. But you know what? Not being frank with people doesn’t make them any better. Instead, it leads to bad decision-making and there is nothing “nice” about that. I had to learn that the hard way.

Why should you be brutally honest with people when it comes to hard truths?

As a blogger, and in my personal life, what I’ve learned is that honesty makes life much easier and helps those around you to be better. If you want to really make a difference, start with honesty. Honestly. You can’t imagine how much people appreciate it when you have a frank and straightforward communication with them. In fact, they build trust in you and come back when they need an honest opinion. They rely on you to tell them if they have headed the wrong way. Being honest is about making sure the people you communicate with have the information they need to make good decisions, to take the right way, to correct themselves. And that, my friend, includes even the information they may not like.

Yes, you may say that being frank may make you lose friends and partners when you tell them a hard truth. But, wait, isn’t withholding it far riskier? When you are frank and honest at all times, whether in your personal or professional life, people will know what to expect from you. And when they need to hear the truth, you will be the one they will come to. Of course, you may lose some people on the way, but what you will gain is trust and respect of so many more.

The Big Mistake – Brutally Honest vs Honest Brutality

Now, many of you may think that being brutally honest means to be cruel, rude and harsh. But, see, this is not brutal honesty, this is just honest brutality and if this is what you imagine when you think how to be frank with people when telling them hard truths, you are getting it all wrong.

Some of you may think that the difference is obvious but, still there are people that firmly believe that they need to literally shock someone into hearing them in order to be brutally honest. They believe that they have to be so harsh and so rude, that the other person can’t help but hear the truth no matter what. But, in fact, treating people harshly can only make them shut down for what you want to say. And that leads to the one very common problem when it comes to telling truths. You have to do it well. And that’s an art.

The main problem with being brutally honest is that it is hard to do it well. Yes, you have to be completely honest, without holding back information that might be hurtful, without telling white lies to make a person feel better. But the real art of being brutally honest is in not just saying the truth, but also how you say it, when you say it and why. To be able to deliver the truth with an emphasis on honesty, not on brutality.

When you have to be brutally honest?

Being honest is always good policy and a recipe for an uncomplicated life. However, I am sure that many of you may argue with me that not every situation is appropriate for being brutally honest. And I agree. But how do you know when it is time to tell the truth right away? Well, after all, you should be using your judgment, the current situation, and the reasons behind telling the truth. However, I think there are three common situations, which most of the time call for brutal honesty.

For instance, the perfect time to be absolutely frank is when someone comes to you to confirm their delusions. This is the time when you need to do the exact opposite – be honest, don’t sugar-coat them and help them realize where they are wrong.

Another situation when you have to call for brutal honesty is when they are making a serious and obvious mistake. When you see that someone is about to make a harmful decision, your honesty may save them from doing something even worse. So don’t keep quiet, tell them the truth. They may curse you now but they may thank you later.

Also, there are moments when trying to be gentle and appropriate may simply not work. Some people really need someone to tell them what they need to hear without holding back. So, when you see that they don’t get the soft talk, it’s time for changing the strategy and being frank with them.

Of course, these are not the only situations when you have to choose honesty over a while lie, and I am sure you may think of many other scenarios but it all comes down to one thing – the person badly needs to hear the truth and yet,  it is very difficult for him to discover it on his own. And that’s where you come into play. You may risk being cursed once or twice, but be sure that your brutal honesty will help that person far more than any sweet talk that will tickle their ears. So, be honest, speak the truth.


Radical Honesty is a great book that gives insight on how trapped we become in our own web of dishonesty both to ourselves and everyone around us and how this affects everything in our life. The casual tone used in the book feels more like a talk to a friend but also has some good points. If you’re trying to figure out how to live an honest life, this is a good read to start with.


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