I grew up in corporate hearing this phrase, and it was generally seen as a good thing. That’s because Brutal Honesty signaled that someone was being candid, direct, helpful. However, I don’t thinks this is accurate; by definition, anything brutal isn’t helpful, it’s hurtful. So stop with the Brutal Honesty.

“Brutal Honesty” reveals an unhealthy rigidity.

In fact, I’ve found that the more rigid you are and the more rigid your definition of self is, the more you impede your own ability to grow. 

You may think “I am who I am.” You approach others and the world with a “take it or leave it” mentality. But the problem is, this mindset doesn’t leave room for personal evolution. And it quashes humility in a way that renders you ineffective without even knowing it.

dilbert bad boss

I admit it: I used to say all kinds of things under the assumed freedom of Brutal Honesty. But I intentionally stopped using the phrase and adjusted my approach to feedback years ago. And I hope those who bore the brunt of my Brutal Honesty will forgive me! I’m constantly trying to become a better version of myself, and identifying these impediments is one way to do just that. Friends, do you know? Who you have been doesn’t have to be who you will be.

Here’s a better way.

Sure, direct transparency is a good thing, but the message can (and should!) be delivered with kindness and care. You see, when someone speaks with Brutal Honesty, they’re prioritizing their own convenience. They get to say what they want and share what they think with minimal preparation, thought or consideration. 

Let’s aim for its opposite: Tactful Honesty, which prioritizes the other person. Tactful Honesty seeks the right moment, ensures the right context for the conversation. It pauses to consider words, which are imminently powerful. And it curates every word to ensure our message lands in the most helpful way possible.

Comic from Dilbert.com