Tender Truth vs Brutal Honesty
It is perhaps the first axiom of relationships to be honest with eachother. That is, after all, how the foundations of deep trust and intimacy are built and maintained. Then why does it sometimes produce just the opposite effect, alienating our partner and bringing out their gorilla defence?
Because with Brutal Honesty, we:
- share with our beloved when we are emotionally hot and our fight/flight response is driving the bus. We have little empathy for how our message is landing
- have a point to prove or win—we’re invested in an outcome and might use shock value or shame to help us win
- speak without asking if they are willing to hear our opinion. This is violating
- wrapped up in a personal or individual agenda and not considering the greater good of the alliance (relational communication)
- project alot of our unexamined shadow onto our partner…this will produce shame
- sneak in a character assassination in the guise of telling the truth–why not treat you to my best interpretation of your motivations and an assessment of your maturity at the same time? Bargain for you!
- break the cardinal rule of relational communication and say “you” rather than “I”. We have no ability (yes, that would be none) to tell another’s truth. We can only tell our own. Now just how brutal do we want to get with that?
We get far better results if we tell our Tender Truth:
- know your motivation. What are you trying to create by sharing?
- ask for permission. You have no right to unleash your opinions on your partner
- calm way down first. If you’re riled and raring for a fight, truth will elude you. Find your heart. Dust off your vulnerability. Remind yourself that you two are both flesh and blood and that sticks and stones aint got nothin on words when it comes to hurting.
- Proceed with great tenderness. Watch your impact
- use first person and express what is happening in your world. The diamond formula here is:
When you did ___________(brief observation of their action/behavior)
I thought______and I felt _______ and I would like to ask you for ________(request)
Now that’s telling the truth!!!
An Example: “when you give her that smile that makes me go weak at the knees, I collapse inside. I think I don’t matter to you. I feel sad and scared of losing you. I want that smile to be just between us—it’s how I tell I’m most special to you, and I want to be”
Only a Saint could learn from Brutal Honesty. Think of Your unbridled self expression is a lethal weapon. Tender, on the other hand, has the power of vulnerability laced all through it, and promotes understanding, connection, and dignity for all. Your sensitivity, self restraint and diamond clarity will impress and inspire your partner and increase awareness and collaboration between you–which is what truth telling is always about.
And this is just a taster! Book an appointment to deepen your capacity for the Art of Tender Truth