The illustration says it all. So many people don’t seem to know the difference between healthy, authentic communication in relationships and unleashing the will of their “truth” and opinion onto other people.
“You have a fat ass.” How’s that for blunt honesty? Feel better now?
“The way you’re raising your child is screwing them up.” So there. I told you.
“You suck at your job.” I’m sure now your work will really improve.
“You’re a worthless drunk.” This is it, you’re ready to quit drinking since it was said so bluntly.
Opinion is often confused with honesty. So let’s be clear, the above statements are wholly dishonest. Let’s revisit a couple of these blunt statements and perhaps try some authentic alternatives that are hopefully more honest and less blunt.
Sure, by some culturally determined measures you may be overweight; your body fat index might be high. That might be a “truth” according to our cultural standards. However, the person who said “you have a fat ass” isn’t really saying, “you’re fat.” They’re saying: I’m afraid for your health. Or they’re saying: I’m feeling insecure about myself so I need to point out something wrong with you to make myself feel better. They’re angry. They are incapable of being real with themselves, so they are incapable of being real with you.
Let’s just say that you may be abusing your child. Perhaps you hit them, or yell at them. We don’t condone that here and you need to stop. But does that mean our blunt honesty of “you’re screwing up your child” is going to be of any help to you. It won’t be. What’s really going on is that perhaps you were abused, perhaps you feel deep shame about your vulnerability and you empower yourself by taking it out on the powerless, like children. We know there’s more to it than that, but we’ll leave it at that for now. That said, the better way to communicate the idea “you’re screwing up your child” is: “I’m afraid for your child. I’m worried about their welfare and angry about how you treat them.” Will this type of authenticity resolve the problem and send someone (who’s so lost in their own delusion as to harm a child) straight into recovery? Unlikely. But, your authentic communication is a start at getting to the deeper truth and working toward the problem.
Blunt honesty (without deeper authenticity) just keeps us on the infinite hamster wheel of aloneness, where we berate others, argue and despite the appearance of connection with others we continue to feel alone and alone.
On the other hand, we do welcome forthright dialog and are willing to advocate for a productive, healthy argument. Unfortunately, people don’t do that too well until they understand that changing anything in one’s life comes from within. We need to change OURSELVES to change others– blunt honesty just isn’t going to do it. You can’t control others to control your fear. That’s inside out. So check your blunt honesty at the door and try to figure out how it might be a lie and find a way to just be authentic.