Leadership & Teamwork: Honesty Hurts but Blunt Burns Forever

Civility has slipped in the business world. 43% of Americans report incivility in the workplace and it’s clear that bluntness is rampant online.

Those that are blunt claim that it isn’t wrong — it’s honest and authentic. Not true. Blunt is a choice of delivery with serious consequences.

Leadership & Teamwork: Honesty Hurts but Blunt Burns Forever Image by:Howard Dickins

One scientist told me that they sacrifice civility to ensure good science. Yet I have witnessed many serious scientists posing tough honest questions while treating each other with respect.

What’s the difference?

Honesty may hurt for a bit but blunt burns forever!

The impact on leadership and teamwork.

Leaders and teams soar with respectful honesty.

    They labor hard under the burn of bluntness.

Honest respectful feedback breaks invisible barriers.
It fuels totally unforeseen greatness.

    Blunt criticism leaves an emotional scar that tamps the desire to take a chance or fuels the desire to react in kind. Both of these reactions sidetrack greatness.

Honesty opens the door of leadership and teamwork to discussion, sharing, and growth.

    Bluntness slams it shut.

Honesty is more powerful than blunt communication. Honesty is served on a cushion of respect that eases hearing and acceptance.

Without the emotion of bluntness, honesty can be heard purely for its message.

Leadership, teamwork, and career success take on new dimensions when honesty is given and received. Bluntness has no such power.

Which will you choose?

From my experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™

©2011 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. If you want to re-post or republish this post, please email info@katenasser.com. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.

Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, delivers consulting, training, DVDs, and keynotes that turn interaction obstacles into business success especially in tough times of change. See this site for workshops outlines and customer results.

11 Responses to “Leadership & Teamwork: Honesty Hurts but Blunt Burns Forever”

  1. Steve Keating says:

    Kate is exactly right! Authentic leaders know that blunt and honest are two completely different things. They take the time required to give honest feedback without the bluntness. Honesty inspires commitment while bluntness forces compliance.
    Great Post Kate!

    • Kate Nasser says:

      I appreciate your feedback and absolutely love your concise “Honesty inspires commitment while bluntness forces compliance.” So well said. Many thanks.

  2. Jim Morgan says:

    Let me be blunt: It’s rare that I agree so completely with a blog post and comments that I have nothing substantial to add!

    I guess I would tell the scientist who claimed incivility is required for good science that I worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory and found that most of the scientists there were politely honest. Last time I checked, it was world-renowned for the quality of its science. He is just rationalizing because he doesn’t want to muster up the self-discipline and empathy to change himself. Is that blunt? Or am I “just being honest?” 🙂

  3. You’re right Kate. People often confuse blunt or rude with honest. “I’m just being honest.” Sometimes you have to be very direct with a person, but it can be done in a way that reflects a knowledge of and respect for the person and allows them to maintain their self-respect.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Exactly my point Michael. You can be direct and still be respectful — so that the person realizes you are not attacking them just disagreeing or communicating an opposite idea.
      Thanks for your contribution!

  4. Ble says:

    How about some examples of the fine line between blunt and honest.. some people will perceive honest as blunt … but maybe because it is not soft enough?

  5. Guy Farmer says:

    Great post Kate. I’ve found that many leaders confuse being blunt with being honest and also forget that communication isn’t always about talking at people. They think they can say anything to anyone under the guise of being honest. An approach I’ve found much more useful is to have open and honest conversations with the people involved that are based on two-way communication.

  6. Micah Yost says:

    Great post and summary of this topic. I love the idea that honesty hurts but blunt burns forever! This is a great blog post that I really identify with. I was just writting the other day on the topic of candor in the workplace and how important it is to effective teamwork. The interesting thing about the definition of candor is that it includes the emotion of “sincere”. Candid feedback, as you also point out, is not only about what you say but also how you say it. It’s about being sincerely interested in improvement for the greater good. This is good stuff, Kate. Thanks for sharing.

    If you’re interested, here are more of my thoughts on candor. http://pulse.me/s/1FGGP

  7. Hi Kate… simple and succinct! I have unfortunately only ever worked under the blunt leadership… Critical/criticizing even when goals were surpassed.

    Thankfully, now I work for myself, or more specifically, my clients. Honesty and encouragement are always the best policy! Thanks!

KateNasser on Facebook KateNasser Blog KateNasser on Twitter KateNasser on LinkedIn KateNasser on Pinterest