Brutal Honesty

So before we get into this whole mess, I would like to clarify what’s going on here. There are people who are just simply brutally honest. You can be brutally honest with them and they don’t take it personally because they don’t classify it differently then simply being honest. I’m fine with people who are like that. What I’m not fine with are people using the phrase as a kind of disclaimer and get out of jail free card to say whatever they want.

1. “If they can’t deal with my brutal honesty, that’s their problem not mine.” 

A part of human interaction is being able recognize how what you say and do affects other people. It’s one of those things that makes you a mature, responsible adult. When you say you’re going to be brutally honest, you’re conscious of the fact that what you say might hurt people or be taken the wrong way. But you’re still going to say it. When you feel like you have to put on a disclaimer on it, it doesn’t completely release you of the responsibility that you hurt someone. You have to take responsibility for that. I always felt that if you’re aware enough to categorize the things you say as brutal, then you should be smart enough to know how phrase it politely.

2. “My brutal honesty is just helpful criticism.”

I think this is where it gets blurry for some people. Criticism is sometimes associated with negativity. Genuine constructive criticism’s end goal is to help people, without being unnecessarily mean/rude about it. Brutal honesty’s end goal seems to be “I’ll hurt you because it’ll help you.” Decent criticism offers suggestions to improve and usually focuses solely on the thing in question. Brutal honesty at some point begins to bleed into a critique of the person, not the thing the person made. For example “You’re so stupid for that.” or “It’s like you don’t know anything.” or laughing at the person asking for your opinion are not usually present in constructive criticism.

3. “It’s not my fault they can’t handle criticism.” 

Occasionally I’ll find myself in situations where someone looks at me and says, “I’m going to be brutally honest to another person.” I look at the situation, their reasoning, and I say “No don’t. It’s not going to help anything. It’s going to make them uncomfortable and they aren’t going to listen to you. Just scale it back, phrase it a different way.” They say “That’s not my problem.” They go off say whatever they say, person gets upset and they’re always surprised. “God they’re really insecure aren’t they? They’re like super weak and sensitive.” Here’s where it gets a little personal for me, and why I’m so against people using the phrase. I dealt with psychological abuse when I was younger (up until four years ago), I have friends who have/had been psychologically abused. When I see someone not taking responsibility for the damage on any level they do to people it brings up a red flag for me. While it’s true, that person may be insecure and sensitive, it really doesn’t make it okay for you to be as hard on them as you can possibly be. When in doubt and/or lacking familiarity with this person, err on the side of polite, especially with criticism.

4. “How am I supposed to know their hang ups and past? I am supposed to accommodate and be sensitive for everyone?”

This is something I’ve heard a lot. The point is you don’t know and that’s why you try to be polite. I honestly don’t have the strength to get into this right now. If you don’t get this one and struggle with where fault lies we seriously need to have a talk.

5. “Look some people need a good kick in the ass sometimes okay?”

I have never seen someone who prides themselves on being brutally honest actually be that when it is absolutely necessary.  I was at a party and one guy in particular was making people really uncomfortable. Obviously he wasn’t aware of it, just saying these horribly, unsettling things to people. I’m looking at someone who always opened his criticism with “I’m just going to be brutally honest…” He was standing away, looking at the ground, not saying anything to this guy. In my head, I’m screaming, “Now. Now would be a really good time for you to be brutally honest and let this guy know what’s up. This is the one moment I would shut my mouth and let you lay into him.” But he didn’t. Brutal honesty seems like it comes out in petty, useless stuff or if you think you won’t be confronted about it. I think I know one person who would’ve torn this guy limb from limb with the power of her words alone. She is just boss.

Okay that’s it. Future post is a beauty haul and another While You Were Out on Tuesday.

Until next time,




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