It’s been said that honesty without compassion is cruelty.
Yes, it’s true that we do prefer people who are straight up with us. We all want to know where we stand. But ever met someone who prides herself on brutal honesty? Someone who feels at ease saying whatever comes to mind—all in the name of “just being honest”?
There is a wide difference between “telling it like it is” and compassionate honesty. Usually people who are brutally honest lack something crucial in developing relationships. It’s called tact. And tact stems from a sense of compassion.
But just what exactly is compassion? In short, it’s a measure of sensitivity. It’s knowing that, often, people are unaware that their behavior or actions are rubbing us the wrong way. It’s understanding that people come from different walks of life, and their behaviors are a result of their culture—domestic, foreign, or family. And that difference doesn’t equate to inferiority.
So when you find you need to “tell it like it is,” tell it with compassion. Let the person know you have his best interests at heart, and you want good things for him. Share facts without judgment, and choose language that demonstrates you believe the best of this person.
When you mix honesty with compassion, you have the right ingredients for friendship and respect.