Being brutally honest isn’t easy. If you see someone you love making a mistake, or putting themselves in harm’s way, you have to speak up.
My son had a teacher last year who told her students that it was never – and I mean NEVER – okay to lie. When he told me what she said on the car ride home, being the stellar parent that I am, I retorted, “Well, that isn’t true.”
He said that she told him that there was always a way to say something truthfully. After tossing around the discussion for a bit, I finally said to him, “Shane, when your wife comes to you wearing a pair of jeans and asks, ‘Do I look fat in these,’ you will realize that sometimes, it is okay to tell a white lie.”
What is a white lie? A white lie is a lie that we tell so that we don’t hurt people’s feelings or cause too much commotion about things in life that don’t really matter. The opposite of a white lie is being brutally honest.
Brutally honest is when you tell someone the truth whether they want to hear it, whether it is good for you to tell them, or even if they are not prepared for it.
13 scenarios where you need to be brutally honest
There are times when it is appropriate to be brutally honest, and then others when honesty could have the fallout of a meteor. Sometimes to be a good friend, wife, husband, or even parent, you need to use a little “tough love” honesty to help someone. Here are some times when you should be brutally honest.
#1 Someone has something in their teeth. When you see that someone is going to make a fool out of themselves by having food in their teeth, lipstick on their teeth, toilet paper stuck to their shoes, or their skirt tucked into their underwear – whether you know them or not – you have an obligation to be brutally honest with them, period. [Read: How to stop lying to yourself and your partner]
#2 Your girlfriend is wearing something see-through or that makes her look like a clown. If you are going out with your friend *or even your girlfriend* and she comes to the door with a white shirt you can see right through, or jeans that have a hole in the wrong place, then you have to warn her.
If she still chooses to wear it, that is on her. But, always err on the side that she doesn’t know about it, and be brutally honest.
#3 You know that your friend is being dumped but they don’t yet. It is much easier to make a story up about why he or she didn’t call back. But, if it is looking painfully obvious that your friend is being dumped, then you have to be a good friend by telling them that their relationship is over, or that the other person isn’t into them.
#4 You think that your friend is in an abusive relationship. If you think that your friend is with a guy or girl who is really abusive, then you should be brutally honest.
Typically, we don’t like to get involved in our friend’s relationships, but if you notice that something is really wrong, whether it is emotional or physical abuse, then you have to say something.
There is a good possibility that they may shoot the messenger, but sometimes being a good friend means that you have to have think skin and do what’s right anyway.
#5 Someone is about to do something really stupid that can be life altering. If someone is going to get behind the wheel of a car drunk, go tell their boss to f*ck off because they had a bad day, or do something that could be potentially life-altering, you have to be brutally honest.
#6 You don’t love someone who loves you back. If you are in a relationship and your feelings have changed, it can be heartbreaking. If you don’t love someone, however, it isn’t fair to not be honest with them.
Sometimes you have to be brutally honest and stop beating around the bush. Saying “I don’t love you” is one of the hardest things to say and to hear, but not knowing and just playing along is humiliating and will hurt them more in the long run.
#7 You don’t think that someone getting married is a good idea. If anyone here can show just cause why these two should not be united in holy matrimony… if you have just cause, you have the responsibility to let the person know.
If you have a secret, know something that could ruin their relationship, or just think in your heart that it is a mistake, you have to risk not being invited and voice your brutally honest opinion. [Read: The worst reasons to tie the knot]
#8 You suspect someone has a drinking or drug problem. Nothing is worse than watching someone drink or drug themselves to death. Besides, no one trying to stop someone from killing themselves with drugs and alcohol is torture.
If you think that your friend has taken the partying lifestyle to a whole new and crazy level, you have to be brutally honest and say something before something bad happens.
#9 You saw someone cheating. If you witnessed someone cheating on your friend, then you have to tell them. The guide to being brutally honest is to ask yourself, “If someone knew what I knew about them, would I want them to tell me?”
Cheating is not only something that can embarrass someone, it can actually harm their health and ruin their life. It is your responsibility to call out a cheater by telling the truth no matter how much it hurts. [Read: You only cheated once – Should you fess up or shut up?]
#10 You hear gossip. If you hear gossip, then you have to tell what you know and who said it if it isn’t true – and sometimes even if it is.
It is hard enough not to join in, but if you want to be a good friend and human being, not only will you speak up and change the record, but you will tell the person what people are saying about them behind their back.
You can’t fight against someone or something if you don’t even know it is happening. If you know that someone is being targeted by destructive talk behind their back, then you have to be brutally honest.
#11 When someone comes to you and asks for your honesty. Being brutally honest is never a fun or comfortable thing, but if someone comes to you and asks you directly to be honest with them, then you have an obligation to tell the truth.
They are not only prepared for the worst, they are asking for you to help them through a tough situation by doing something that others in their life won’t – being brutally honest. [Read: How to be charming and liked by everyone]
#12 If you see someone making a poor purchase. If a friend asks you what you think about something from a pair of jeans to a car, if you don’t think it’s worth it *and they are going to overspend their budget and for the item itself,* then you have to tell them so.
#13 Am I wrong? If your friend got into a confrontation with either a friend or their bestie and they tell you the story – and you think they were in the wrong – you have to state your opinion.
A friend is about more than just telling someone what they want to hear to make them feel good. Sometimes to be a friend, you have to tell them things that they really don’t want to hear at all
Being brutally honest can have a negative connotation, but at times it can be one of the kindest things you can do for someone. Preempting someone getting hurt – either emotionally or physically – is an obligation that we have as human beings and as friends.
The truth can sometimes be painful, and the very last thing we want to hear, but sometimes we just have to.
It is much easier to tell someone what they want to hear and make them happy than it is to be brutally honest. But that’s not always the right thing to do. If you see someone doing something that is going have a negative impact, then you have to speak up.
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