Bruce Kasanoff once said that the difference between honesty and cruelty is razor-thin. He’s not wrong. In this article, we look into why honesty without compassion is cruelty and dive deeper to help you understand why.

With all the challenges of our modern world, it can be tough to get honest feedback on how we’re doing, especially when it comes to how we’re coming across to people in the workplace. That’s why you need some thoughtful advice, some empathy for what others are feeling, and a little compassion for their perspective without getting too personal or unprofessional yourself.

Unlike the famous tagline for Arby’s, “It takes a lot of meat to make a small guy”, it isn’t hard to sense that honesty without compassion is cruelty. The problem is that sometimes people don’t know when they’re being cruel. They think they are being kind, but are actually harming others.

Honesty is a great trait to have but if you’re not careful it can also be a challenge. When individuals are given the chance to really reflect on what they’ve said, said recently or posted on their social media channels, they usually realize how cruel they have been.

If you think about it there are many ways of being honest, but if done without compassion you could be seen as blunt, rude or simply mean.

When you do speak up because you know what’s right, it has to be done in a way that doesn’t create offense. However, there is a difference between speaking up and being cruel – we’re not talking about the quality of your actions but the manner in which you talk and behave.

If honesty and compassion go hand in hand, then it would be unreasonable to expect that honesty without compassion is cruelty.

7 tips to help delivery honesty with compassion

1. Think about how this information will affect the receiver

Speak up at the moment when you’re not under stress. To do this, you need to step back and consider how what you’re about to say will affect the receiver.

You might be tempted to say or do something that’s off-hand or that is harsh, but rather than making the receiver feel bad, use their own words against them.

2. Make sure you’ve done your research

Most of us don’t think about these things when we make honest but cruel statements. Once you’ve spoken with the receiver, it’s easy to say something without thinking through all the consequences.

Make sure you know what they’re like before you make statements; they may be different to how you imagine them. You could go into an interview with difficult questions that you didn’t think of, like “do you like football?” or ask about an old colleague’s weekend without thinking about their personal lives – which might be different to how they’re presenting themselves on social media.

3. Think about how you would like to be treated

Before you make a statement, consider how you would like to be treated – will they respect your position? Does it matter what others think of them? You can learn a lot about the person by how they treat others, and to do this will help their reputation too.

4. Talk to them in person or phone them up

There is no way that delivering harsh information over an email or social media can be as effective as taking it through face-to-face. There is a lot you can’t do over email.

If you know it’s going to be a sensitive conversation, then prepare yourself for all of the possible outcomes of the conversation. This involves researching more about them and practicing what you’re going to say.

5. Put yourself in their shoes and imagine how it would feel to be them

If you’ve committed an honest but cruel action it’s important that you find out more about the person and their feelings first before saying something that could be offensive or upsetting.

Try to put yourself in their shoes and imagine how it would feel to be them. It’s hard to understand how others feel or think, but if you can imagine their reaction then you’re closer to being able to speak with them about the issues that bother you.

6. Make sure you’re giving honest answers, not honest answers with a hidden agenda

When talking with someone about sensitive issues, make sure they really want an honest answer and aren’t just looking for validation. If you’re not sure about giving an answer, don’t be afraid to ask them if they really want the honest truth.

It’s important to realize that some people actually want an honest answer and don’t like to be lied to. Be careful not to let your hidden agenda slip out and make sure it is accurate and truthful.

7. Consider the consequences of your actions

When you know it might be a sensitive conversation, it’s important to think about what the repercussions and outcomes will be. It’s not so much about telling them what to do but encouraging them to think differently. If they don’t, then it could be a sign that they want to change their behaviors or alter their approach – if that’s the case, then you’ve made a difference by speaking up.

Why is honesty important?

We all need to be open and honest. It’s one of the main reasons we can’t get along – we think we’re right and the other person is wrong. So, it makes sense that we should be more careful about what we say to people, particularly when they’re not right.

It’s never good to hurt someone’s feelings with the truth, but that doesn’t mean you should just leave people alone. Sometimes it’s our job to speak up.

We need to be honest with ourselves about how we feel, what we need and want, what’s right and wrong, what has happened, and what will happen. It’s important because if we’re not honest then we can’t share them with others.

Honesty doesn’t just mean saying the truth; it means saying all of the information that you know or think you know. However, some of us don’t like to say what we think, but instead, find it easier to say what we know.

The real test of honesty is if you’re willing, to tell the truth even when you know that people won’t like it. It’s not about being right or wrong – it’s more about being honest.

When honesty becomes cruelty, this is where it stops working toward a better relationship. The honesty becomes harmful because the way in which it was delivered was not sensitive or kind enough for everyone involved.

Why is compassion important?

Compassion is the ability to take another person’s perspective. It helps you put yourself in their shoes and feel what they may have been feeling or what it could have been like for them.

Compassion isn’t always easy to come by, but if we include compassion in our relationships, then things can be a lot more fulfilling and rewarding. Compassion is the ability to take another person’s perspective. It helps you put yourself in their shoes and feel what they may have been feeling or what it could have been like for them.

In the same way, being compassionate towards yourself is important because you can’t be compassionate towards others if you’re not treating yourself well. Too many people have a hard time being compassionate because they’re too busy taking care of themselves.

Being compassionate means that you have a genuine concern for another person and that you want them to be better – or at least happier – than they were before. You may ask questions to help clarify some things but don’t use them as opportunities to make someone feel bad.

Compassion is the ability to take another person’s perspective. It helps you put yourself in their shoes and feel what they may have been feeling or what it could have been like for them.

Compassion isn’t always easy to come by, but if we include compassion in our relationships, then things can be a lot more fulfilling and rewarding. Compassion is the ability to take another person’s perspective. It helps you put yourself in their shoes and feel what they may have been feeling or what it could have been like for them.

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