In the Name of Being Honest
“So casually cruel in the name of being honest.”
It’s a stop-me-in-my-soprano-voice lyric from the T-Swift song “All Too Well”. One of my absolute favorite songs by her. You can listen here AFTER you read the article 😉
The first time I heard it, it struck more than a vocal chord with me. It resonated with a deeper meaning and understanding about how honesty impacts you.
I’ve been on both sides of the line.
I’ve been the one being honest.
I’ve been the one receiving the honesty.
Both sides are tough to navigate. However, delivering the truth requires more poise and purposeful intent than the other, which is why I advocate that honesty is not always the best policy.
Why? Telling the truth generally comes from a selfish place. Before you think I’m saying you should become Pinocchio, I’m not. What I am saying is, when you think you’re about to drop a truth bomb, realize that sometimes it’s just that… a bomb. A bomb powerful enough that you may create lasting devastation if detonated.
Three things to consider before you drop a truth bomb:
- Fundamentals. Is the truth you are about to speak a fundamental? By fundamental, I mean based on your relationship, is this a fundamental piece of how you relate to each other? For example, if this is a parent-to-child relationship, speaking truth on right vs. wrong, house rules, curfew and respect are fundamentals. In a boss-to-employee relationship, speaking truth about core values, mission statement, performance, and service are fundamentals. These fundamentals are the truth boundaries to look for when deciding if you should speak or hold your tongue. Outside of the fundamentals, you get into your own personal opinions and that is when a truth bomb should be disarmed.
- Framing. How are you framing the truth? Framing is key to communicating honestly. Why are you sharing this truth? How does it affect you and how does it affect the other person? When would be the best time to deliver the truth bomb? And around whom? How you frame your honesty will determine if you unleash a bomb or instead you deliver honest feedback that the recipient respectfully receives.
- Feelings. How do you think the person is going to feel if you speak this truth to them? Not sure? Ask yourself how would YOU feel if someone dropped the truth bomb on you. This is where Taylor’s (yes, we are on a first name basis) words “casually cruel” come into play. Quite frequently, honesty is a façade for delivering your own cruel opinion. Is it really in the other person’s best interest or is it being fueled by your own selfish needs and desires? Tough questions to consider, but we are talking about a bomb here.
Special Note: There is a big key component that holds these three things together; did the person ask, solicit, or request for you to share the truth with them? No? Then SHUT UP. Do not detonate! This is the easiest and clearest way to figure out if you are speaking truth in a constructive way or not. If it has not been requested, take a hard look at the three things above, because some unsolicited truths will fall on deaf ears.
Some people are not ready to hear your truth. Until they request it from you, perhaps you should lay off the honesty so not to be so casually cruel. It’s much better to be the bigger person and hold your tongue than to unleash a bomb you can’t take back.
Below are the remaining lyrics that surround the line that inspired this piece:
“You call me up again just to break me like a promise.
So casually cruel in the name of being honest.
I’m a crumpled up piece of paper lying here
Cause I remember it all, all, all too well.”
-All Too Well, Taylor Swift