July 26, 2021

The Benefit of Radical Honesty in Interpersonal Relationships.

Does radical honesty have a place in a paradigm of conscious communication?

I don’t know about you, but I typically pass my words and actions through a series of filters, conscious and unconscious, before allowing them out into the world.

Is it socially acceptable? Do I care? Is it culturally appropriate? Do I care? Is it authentic, true to my sense of self? Is it of benefit? To whom?

And my favorite, my go-to litmus test for conscious communication: is it true? Is it necessary? And is it kind?

If the answer to those three questions is not a full-bodied yes, I will, more often than not, bite my tongue.

And yet, in doing so, I fear that I sometimes relegate my own needs to second fiddle. The melody I play outwardly ends up tuned to the needs of others—to protecting feelings, to ahimsa, to de-escalating conflict, to keeping the boat nice and steady.

A friend’s actions upset me, but I say nothing, because any words I can think of feel unnecessary or unkind.

But unnecessary and unkind to whom?

I am finding that sometimes I must speak up in the spirit of kindness to myself, in honor of my own needs, because to stay silent may protect others, but it hurts me.

The concept of “radical honesty” never used to resonate with me, and I still find it extreme as a baseline communication style. However, I am reevaluating it, considering that it is not necessarily antithetical to the true/necessary/kind rule of thumb—at least not when it comes to interpersonal relationships.

Perhaps radical honesty assumes that anything less is fundamentally unkind—to the person who bites their tongue, to the relationship that is not held with full transparency, or to the person who never has the opportunity to hear the complete story.

And maybe I can get behind that.

What does radical honesty mean to you? Do you practice it? I’d love to know!


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