The Truth About Being Brutally Honest

I get that there’s a bit of irony to this post. I’m saying something that might not be super popular for the sake of honesty. A few months ago, I heard someone say something rude in the name of honesty. Being brutally honest, in which people say whatever they like for the sake of “the truth,” is kind of confusing. In a world where 92% of people who consider to be pretty honest admit to telling a lie within the last week, I don’t buy that honesty is what motivates brutally honest people. Not honesty, just mean-spiritedness.

I want to disclaim this post by saying that I haven’t been burned recently. This is just something I’ve been considering and wanted to share in hopes to make our world a little less stressful and mean.


I’m going to call your bluff here, brutally honest people. How honest are you normally? If, for example, you made plans already, but something better and more exciting pops up- are you brutally honest in this case? Do you say to your dear, sweet friend, “I’m sorry, I have to cancel our plans because something better than spending time with you has popped up.”

Or, what about when you’re pulled over by a police officer and he asks, “Do you know how fast you were going?” Do you answer, “Yes, officer, I was going 25 miles over the speed limit?” Or does a reflex come over you and you automatically respond, “No, officer, I don’t!”

It seems to me that brutally honest people are only brutally honest in certain situations. They’ll be brutal at someone else’s expense, but not at their own when there might be consequences.

Related: Are We Really Savoring These Moments? 

Being brutally honest is just an excuse to be a mean human.


You don’t value honesty, you value your own opinions. You don’t value others’ feelings, you value your right to speak yours.

We have enough meanness and ugliness in this world. Maybe rather than being brutally honest, we can be unbelievably kind? What if we said what we though, but said it nicely?  What if we spoke words with grace and patience, instead of meanness and brutality?

You might be #brutallyhonest, but is that your excuse to be a mean person?


Honesty and Christianity

I’m a Christian. I know I don’t have specifically Christian readers, but I wanted to say this anyways. There is an idea going around that says we should be tough and blunt and straightforward, brutally honest, because that’s how Jesus was. But, if you study the life of Jesus, there is clearly one group of people who he acted this way with: those who claimed themselves to be extremely religious, righteous people. With the others, he was kind and compassionate. He was honest, but not brutal. It really saddens me to see people choose meanness instead of compassion in the name of Christianity.

Related: Parenting is Hard, Modern Parenting is Harder

Bottom Line

I think we could spread kindness a little more successfully if we didn’t view our opinions as the most important. By all means, be honest. But also, be kind.


  • Susan Croox September 6, 2018 at 9:39 am

    Thanks for calling us out! Well, I don’t think I use the brutally honest card, but thanks for putting it into words why. We are selfish and deceptive. We need Jesus. I have a lot of family members who call this being transparent and laud it as good character when they do it. But if I ever return the favor, which is really rare, I’m a horrible person. Apparently being brutally honest is only ok when you’re the one doing it.

    • leahbmartin September 7, 2018 at 8:40 pm

      That’s a good point! People only want to dish out “honesty” and have a hard time hearing it for themselves!

  • Ali September 7, 2018 at 2:57 am

    You hit the nail on the head. I’ve totally been the “brutally honest” type before and have grown in grace and kind words as I’ve grown in awareness of how ineffective and hurtful it is for me and others to be “brutally honest”. Feelings do matter. A lot. And what we say and how we say it has a HUGE impact on other people’s sense of safety and love in the relationship. Thanks for articulating this idea so well!

    • leahbmartin September 7, 2018 at 8:41 pm

      You are so right, Ali! Feelings do matter, and often the residual feelings that our words leave last much longer than we’d ever expect!


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