Getting Rid of Brutal Honesty

How to Really Deliver Honesty

Being honesty with someone doesn’t mean you have to be brutal. But unfortunately, that’s how many people deliver it. We think that this is the only way to get our message across, but it only ensures the other person shuts down, misses what we’re attempting to share, and avoids us at all costs in the future. 

Honesty is a dish best served with love. If we want what we’re saying to resonate and help the other person grow, it’s best delivered from love. Now love may seem like a strong word for just any general conversation, but I assure you it is the best way to get the message across. 

We must be 100% honest and 100% loving.

Being 100% honest is critical. Before speaking, be clear on why you’re compelled to share. As a reminder, honesty is defined as being truly and freely yourself, speaking into what you want and how you feel.

  • Is this tough feedback that needs to be said?
  • Is this a key company update that will affect your employees?
  • Do you need someone to know that their actions are negatively affecting you?
  • Is what you’re not saying affecting the relationship negatively?


This is not about being honest for honesty’s sake. There is another human being on the other side of this conversation. One half of the communication is about you, but remember – the other half is about others. Get clear on what needs to be said in order to keep the real communication flowing and the relationship thriving. Think about helping the other person understand your intentions behind sharing your honesty.

Once you know why there’s a need to be honest, we move to 100% loving and how to do that. To be loving is to feel or show great care. Are you ready to feel and show great care for the person you’ll be sharing your honesty with? 

Here’s how to know you’re ready to be 100% loving:

  • You are sharing your honesty because you genuinely believe it will help the person improve.

  • You are prepared to share using statements that begin with I, taking ownership of your honesty rather than blaming others.
    • Examples: I think your sales pitch needs some work. -or- I noticed you were a bit defensive and aggressive. -or- I’m worried about our projections for next quarter. 

  • You will begin the conversation with The Agreement and commit to it:
    • “Will you agree with me on how we’re going to communicate? I want you to be 100% honest, meaning being truly and freely yourself, speaking into what you want and how you feel. I promise that I will be 100% open to it. I will listen without reservation, putting my needs and wants on pause for you. In return I will be honest with you and I ask that you be completely open to it.”


The Agreement is key. If you are not willing or able to be open to what they have to say in return, you are not ready to share your honesty. Said another way, if you’re not ready and willing to admit that you might be wrong, then what you have to share will fall flat. This requires you to first model the skills of being honest AND open. Beginning the conversation with The Agreement establishes the boundaries of the conversation. When you sense that the other person is not being open or honest, you can then call it out (with love) and quickly return the conversation to real communication.

  • You have solutions to help improve the person/situation.

  • You will balance your emotions when sharing your honesty.
    • Sometimes we project feelings and emotions in ways that can be off putting or confusing. Emotions aren’t bad, but when extreme it can have a negative consequence. For example, a loud, impatient tone could make someone feel attacked. You can be sure that no one’s mind was ever changed when attacked. But if approached with genuine love and care it has a greater chance of being received. 


When you have those five in place, that is when you’re ready to be 100% honest and 100% loving.  Honesty is a precious gift. You are sharing precisely how you feel or what you want. You’ve offered up clarity. And now it’s time to handle that delivery with a little more care than you might have otherwise. Create a 100% loving approach and watch your honesty transform lives.

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