Being ‘Brutally Honest’ is Overrated: Why Can’t Honesty Be Enough?

I hear more people preface an opinion these days with a warning they’re about to be brutally honest. What comes next is rarely pleasant…or necessary.

Have you noticed these days how many people seem to thrive on being “brutally honest”?

It’s apparently the latest way to be chic.

I hear it in everyday conversations. I even see it when I nose across social media sites where people describe their own personalities.

For some reason, they seem to believe that being brutally honest is something to be proud of and wear it like a proverbial red badge of courage. But the problem is that people who like to classify themselves with that description generally aren’t nearly as honest as they are just plain brutal.

If you’re in a a close enough relationship with a person in which being “brutally honest” seems fitting, why would you want to beat them over the head with what you consider the “truth” when you could at least attempt to be delicate?

The Urban Dictionary, after all, defines it as being “honest without regard to hurting the person’s feelings.” Call me crazy, but if I’m close to someone, I would think I would want to avoid hurting their feelings. That doesn’t mean I would try to lie to them, but I’d at least try to express the truth in a way that won’t hurt their feelings.

I think it’s possible that those who believe in being brutally honest may actually think they’re helping the receiver of the “honesty.” But I also think it’s possible that those people may require a bit more “tough love” than those around them would.

If we’re thinking about the “Golden Rule,” isn’t that how we should treat people always since that should be the way we’d want to be treated?

And then there are people who don’t know you: if you’re brutally honest with them, they’ll probably think you’re rude. Why would you want to be thought of that way? You never know whether that person who thinks you’re a jerk might suddenly be in some kind of position of authority over you. It’s probably a good idea, then, to behave a bit better.

I’m reminded of a powerful church message I heard once that distinguished between “biblical facts” and “biblical truths.” When someone cites a commandment, for example, from the Bible, it could be considered a “biblical fact.” But when that fact is cited in a hurtful, mean-spirited way, it’s not compatible with Jesus Christ’s command that we love one another, and therefore, is not a “biblical truth.”

Maybe I’m just old-fashioned, but I’d prefer to stick with the older adage that tells us if you don’t have something nice to say, it might just be better to say nothing. And if I’m just determined to be honest, I think I can be diplomatic enough to do so in a respectful way.

How much do you appreciate someone being ‘brutally honest’ with you?

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 27 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.