Yes, it is possible to be honest and compassionate at the same time, even if the truth does hurt.
Let’s face it, some people hide their rudeness under the guise of being blunt or being brutally honest. You may have that one friend or family member who always finds a way to surprise you with how blunt they are to the point that you’re almost afraid to share things with them. They make a casual remark or response that stings but they (or even you) brush it off as just them being honest. You may also be that kind of person and you’re simply just not aware that what you say, even if you think it’s correct, isn’t the most compassionate way to get the point across.
You can be truthful and still hold space for someone else’s feelings. Carefully consider the words you choose and be intentional about delivery. There is a fine line between being rude & honest. Never confuse the two! (2/2)— Imani🐞 (@prettygirll4L) December 10, 2023
Being careful and considerate with your wording, phrasing, and even tone isn’t being fake or hiding under presentation—it’s just a normal facet of communication. We owe it to each other—friends, families, strangers—to be truthful, but also to be kind. Here’s how you can be totally honest but respectful and compassionate at the same time, because it’s often easy for people to be rude while delivering some hard-to-hear truths.
DIFFERENT PEOPLE, DIFFERENT APPROACHES
When you truly know or care about a person, you know how they would respond to certain things. For instance, one of your friends could be someone who responds well to straight-up hearing harsh truths and willing to consider them, but another one could be someone who reacts negatively to the same advice or perspective and start an argument where they defend themselves. Some friends need interventions, and some friends just need you to be a little kinder with the way you phrase your perspective. It’s all about the delivery.
There is no one way to respond to brutal honesty—especially if that honesty is packaged in a way that could be misconstrued as mean by a certain person. Know that talking to people and responding to their wants and needs, whoever they are, requires different approaches and considerations. Sometimes, you have to be blunt, and others, you have to be more implicit. And you’re not being fake just for doing or saying different things, nor are you being manipulative for doing do—you’re just being tactful and considerate of the people in your life.
KNOW THAT YOUR OPINIONS ARE NOT ALWAYS TRUTHS
Yes, you may think that those shoes were ugly, or that someone’s partner is not good for them, but not everyone sees the world the same way you do. Beliefs, opinions, and truths differ greatly across people, and we often fall into the trap of sharing our opinions as fact and thinking that someone else will inevitably agree—because, well, to you, it’s the truth.
What do you intend to do when you express honesty? Is it to make someone aware or just to make them feel like they’re wrong? Is it to help or to hurt? You would never admit to yourself that you intend to hurt others, but try to channel some self-awareness and see it from someone else’s perspective—that’s how you can start to communicate better without weakening your relationships.
There will be some people who can’t handle the truth, and it’s a frustrating task to get them to see other perspectives. Sometimes, people aren’t ready to consider that maybe they are the problem or that they have a problem. But if you really care about them, be patient. Take the time to know how to get your point across in a way that’s honest about your feelings and perspectives but also compassionate of someone’s situation and circumstances.
COMMUNICATE CLEARLY EVEN IF YOU THINK YOU’RE OVERTHINKING IT
A few years back, I greeted a friend for their birthday and called them a certain term that, in my head, was true and complimentary, but they responded in a way that made it obvious to me that they took it as a negative. Being misunderstood is one of my biggest pet peeves, and it’s why I often try to make sure people understand my own intent and interpretations even if they disagree with what I’m saying. Communicating truths, opinions, perspectives, advice, and the like can be difficult, and we can never predict how another person will understand and respond. The best we can do is be intentional and mindful of what we’re trying to communicate.
It’s not weakness or “softness” to want to be purposeful and kind with the way you address problems or issues—especially what with the rise in mean comments and mean people on the Internet (not to mention the glamorization of the “mean girl”). Really, all we have to do is be compassionate and considerate, acknowledging that people are different and perspectives are, too. I’d like to think that we, as a society, are still capable of doing that.
Continue Reading: This 2023, Let’s Stop Being Rude To People, Period