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Honesty - a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular - Adlai Stevenson


How to Be Honest Without Being Harsh

  1. Focus on how you present your honest assessment of any situation. This is the most important part of reducing any sense of harshness––the how of delivery matters. Begin from a position of kindness, of acceptance that it is better to be tactfully honest than to let someone go on believing something that isn't true. Be prepared to stick to the objective, identifiable facts and avoid making emotional observations. Act from the goodness of exposing a problem in need of a solution. And be aware that this is a communication skill––as with all skills, it will take time and practice to perfect, with a good dose of humility thrown in.
    • Consider the person with whom you must be honest. Don't be brash or too pointed where the person is usually shy or very sensitive. Take into account their nature when adapting your message. There will be a different approach between telling your best friend something delicate and motivating a slack co-worker with whom you're trying to complete a project.
    • If you need to rehearse, do so! It is much better to have gone over what you're going to say to iron out any insensitive or thoughtless comments that might crop up through nervousness or an over-willingness to "set things right". It won't make you sound forced; practice will actually help you to work through whether this is the right thing to do, and which words are the right ones to use.
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