Why Do Many Mistake Honesty for Negativity?

Last Update: August 16, 2017

Throughout their life, people struggle to understand why others are not able to deal with their honest answers or opinions, especially in the situations where honesty was asked for. Every time honest replies are considered as negative. This happens to most of us. And we are bound to think when did being honest become a bad thing?

Is it that people don’t know how to be honest anymore? Or is it that people can’t digest honesty when on the receiving end? There are many possibilities. With every human, the behavior and the reasons change. Let’s take a look at a few:

  • People don’t know what to say:
  • Ego:
  • The relationship with the person:
  • How it has been conveyed:

More often than not, people just don’t realize when they crossed the fine line between honesty and negativity. When you ask for their honest opinions, they automatically take it as permission to criticize. They think being honest means speaking something critical or finding faults with stuff. They only know how to pick faults and then say “I was just being honest.” It’s their hideout. So in such a scenario, the receiver is not mistaking honesty for negativity, but the speaker is.

Mostly when you say something honestly, that borders on criticism or is not completely positive, people tend to take it on their egos. Nobody is usually ready to hear something bad about them. You tell someone that he/she is not perfect, their ego gets hurt. That is what most human beings make themselves into after growing up. They don’t have enough humbleness to accept that they could be wrong and what the other person is saying is acceptable.

Honesty could be well-received or ill-received, depending on who it is coming from. A friend needs to be honest and discuss the touchy subjects, even though you are not comfortable with it. It is still acceptable because you know your friend has good intentions. But coming from a formal relation like your peers, superiors or any other acquaintance; makes it hard to accept it at face value. Though it has been done in a healthy and respectful way, people don’t tend to trust on the feedbacks from anyone other than their close ones. They take it as an insult.

Being honest does not mean you can say the truth by making fun of a person or bullying them. If not treated with respect, honesty can very easily become negativity. When the truth is conveyed harshly, it is difficult for people to be open about it. For example, asking a fat person to take care of his/her health and lose weight for their personal benefit is acceptable honesty. But making fun of them or mentioning it every time could lead them to gain more weight. Human minds don’t like to hear certain things if they are not conveyed softly. Unnecessary persistence leads to negativity. Maybe there is a good point, but the way it is delivered becomes the deciding factor if it stays or is lost on you.

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WarrenK1 Premium
Great post. You can take it further and ask why any disagreement with someone equals "hate". We live in a world of of being sheltered and seeking affirmation. Facebook really brings this home in that if you disagree in the slightest, you may get un-friended, possibly in real life and that's a shame.

You are absolutely right about honesty and aggression. It is not a license to ridicule or degrade, but rather an attempt at what used to be called civil discourse.

"Just sayin" and "just being honest" and other snarky means of communication are just showing a passive aggresiveness.

You see two people in a restaurant and both are on reading stuff on their phones and not talking to each other. This is what has been lost in the digital age. We need to be able to engage and have the give and take, be able to agree and to disagree and still be friends.

Sorry for the long reply. You touch on something I am really passionate about and that is the ability for two human being to be able to talk to each other.