I’m just being honest

“That hairdo looks like it’s from the 90s.”
“You have garbage mouth – eat a mint!”
“Your stir fry looks like vomit; I’d never eat that…”
“This is the worst piece of writing I’ve ever had to edit.”

 Sure, we’ve all done it – we’ve all been “honest” with our friends about one thing or another.  They ask us if their respective butts look fat in those jeans, if their breath is okay or if their papers need improvement.  If we have to critique them, we try and do it in a polite way – as we should.

However, there are times when people use the line, “I’m just being honest!” to say something mean or rude to someone.

For example, if someone needs to be told that his or her writing is not up to par, the rude person might say, “Your writing sucks – hey! I’m just being honest.”  The polite person may say, “The grammar in your article needs to be improved; if you need any help, I have some resources I can share with you.”

A good criticism will have a polite delivery with a suggestion for improvement.  Hiding a rude comment behind the guise of honesty never works.  Even if you were just being honest, that doesn’t make up for hurting someone’s feelings or putting someone down.  That is self-serving, thoughtless behaviour and, thus, completely discourteous.

Before you say something negative, ask yourself: does this need to be said?  Will making this comment help or hurt the person?  What will they gain from hearing my criticism?

If you tell someone they are bad at something without providing a means for improvement, specific suggestion or at least saying what particularly needs improvement, what have you truly offered that person?

Refrain from making comments or snap judgments about people’s appearances.  Unless they are going for a job interview, an important meeting or perhaps a date, it probably doesn’t matter if they are wearing a scrunchy in their hair or shoes that are a little too high.  If someone is overweight, in your opinion, you don’t need to comment or judge them.  Your prejudice has no positive effect in anyone’s life and should be tossed in favour of polite acceptance of others. Your opinion isn’t necessary, even if you’re “just being honest.”

There is always a polite way to say what needs to be said – but some things don’t need to be said at all.

Don’t use “honesty” as an excuse to be mean or rude.


3 thoughts on “I’m just being honest

  1. It’s not enough to be honest if you can’t be kind. It’s not about pussy-footing, but about having genuinely good intentions for sharing an honest observation. Great post!

  2. I once made a new year’s resolution that I would educate people in an honest, gentle way if I thought that their behaviour was detrimental to their own happiness . For example, you know those people who are so obnoxious that every one avoids their company? They are their own worst enemy. I was going to bravely point out that if they weren’t so cynical, nasty and negative, they might find some true friendships and will eventually feel better about themselves. I thought it was a noble and altruistic endeavour and was going to cure the world of boredom and aggressiveness. However at my first encounter with a potential candidate, my ingrained politeness overshadowed my honest intentions and I chickened out! Instead my eyes glazed over and I endured long-winded vindictiveness with feigned interest.
    Now I have decided that life is too short to waste time with malcontents and I seek out the company of cheerful and funny friends.

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