As defined in Wikipedia, honesty refers to a facet of moral character and connotes positive and virtuous attributes such as integrity, truthfulness, straightforwardness, including straightforwardness of conduct, along with the absence of lying, cheating, and theft. Honesty also includes being trustworthy, loyal, fair, and sincere.
Benjamin Franklin said, “Honesty is the best policy.” I agree with that statement but I would add that honesty with respect is an even better policy. In my experience when someone says, “I’m going to be brutally honest,” or ends a harsh comment with, “I was just being honest,” oftentimes their motive for the “honesty” was less than fair or sincere and those statements were used as an excuse to say something that likely hurt the other person’s feelings and they were simply looking for a way to excuse their bad behavior.
If you feel the need to “be brutally honest”, consider whether your honesty truly is intended in the spirit of helping the other person develop or change in a positive manner or is there a more personal agenda underlying the intent behind the comment? The same can be said for someone who repeats back to someone a hurtful comment they heard another person make about that person. You may think you are being helpful and honest about saying what you heard. But ask yourself why you feel the need to be the one to convey that information and your intent in doing so.
Yes, the truth does sometimes hurt and I’m not saying all feedback or comments must be sugarcoated. Honest feedback is necessary and crucial for a person’s development. However, it can and it should be done respectfully and with a pure motive. Honestly, isn’t that what we all want?