Re-posted From: http://KindCommunication.org/2013/11/03/radical-honesty/
Most people think “radical honesty” must involve telling your friends, loved ones, and co-workers all the worst judgments, criticisms, and blame that you’re mind can produce. ”You want me to be radically honest??” a client of mine protests. “You want me to tell her how she’s constantly nagging and never gives me space to even breathe??”
I’d say the above is still just another type of lying. It assumes that the other person is at fault, and that if they would only change then things would improve. It essentially denies the speaker’s responsibility for their own experience. And that’s not honest.
There are three things that radical honesty requires: 1) telling the factual truth about what happened, 2) owning your feelings and core desires, and 3) revealing your deeper values.
So as you can see, radical honesty is really all about the speaker, not about the listner. Let me demonstrate what I’m talking about when I say “radical honesty”:
“I’m really sad that you don’t want to see this movie with me, to be honest I really admire you and find you quite attractive.”
“When you didn’t call home last night, I was scared…really scared…that maybe you weren’t okay…but also that maybe you don’t really respect or love me.”
“You know, I’d really like to connect with you right now, but I’m frustrated that I’m not connecting well to this topic.”
And why would you ever want to do this? Anytime you want to have more intimacy. When you want the other person to really see and “get” you. When an argument or fight has just been going on and on with no end in sight. When you want more connection.
Essentially when you want to have a deep, rich, and powerful relationship with another person.
This certainly isn’t easy to do. We often hide behind such rationalizations as “I don’t want to hurt your feelings” or “its actually not that important.”
But if you’re avoiding being this honest with people ask yourself “who really ever gets to see me?” or “am I ‘protecting’ this person or the relationship at the cost of myself?” It is vital to a healthy relationship that you get to be seen and understood for who you really are. And no one can do that for you if you aren’t radically honest with them.
A quick story from my life:
I was on a date with a girl, and it actually was pretty boring. There just wasn’t much of a spark, we kept just bantering and making small talk. Finally I peeped up “hey, you know…I was excited about going on this date, but now I’m actually feeling a little bored. I’d like us to have a fun date…so could you tell me what you really think of me so far, and how you think this date is going?”
My date at first gave me this look of just utter confusion. But then slowly smiled and said “well…I guess I also wasn’t having that much fun…you’re not really my type and I thought we would have had more in common…but I really admire you for asking.”
I laughed. ”Yeah…it was scary. And I am kinda sad that you’re not really that into me, I find you very attractive.”
We talked for a little while longer, paid our bill, and left. We didn’t have a second date. But that moment was so exciting and fun, even in remembering and typing it here I felt some of the thrill of that moment. And we didn’t have to continue pretending that something was going to come of us dating which just wansn’t true. We both got to really see each other in that moment.
Sometimes you won’t like what you see, but at least you’ll know where you stand.
KindCommunication.org is a project by a close friend of Wiki World Order, Alex Leach. WWO fully supports the study, practice, and teaching of non-violent communication as one of the core solutions which already exists.