Being Sincere Doesn’t Mean Being Rude

Or 7 tips to tell the truth without hurting people*

“Being sincere doesn’t mean being rude” — this is a very meaningful phrase for me. So meaningful that I thought it was my creation. But a single search on Google showed me that a lot of people are also confused about it — in Portuguese, the literal translation is seen in a lot of sources, including career blogs,, Yahoo Answers and even a Wikihow step-by-step.

Those who knows me (and knows my dad) knows that my harsh way of saying things has been cultivated by me since I was born, beneath the plea “I’m being sincere.” That was always attached to the thought “The world needs people who take a stand, so I’m right”. The only thing really right about this is that the world really needs people who defend their beliefs, but this never gave me the right to tell anything to anybody. Even with the best intentions. Even when sincerity is a charming trace of famous TV characters.

“It isn’t about WHAT you say, but HOW you say it”, people use to tell me through my lifetime. Even so, only when I finally put myself in the place of others (empathy) I realized how paying attention to this advice could change my life. For real. It is very important to highlight that I still make a lot of mistakes. But the good news is that my change has already started.

So, I’m registering these tips not just to share what I had learned, but I’m also doing it to pratice my best therapy: writing.

  1. Do you really need to give your opinion?

It is always healthy to analyze what you are ready to say: is it useful, necessary or asked for? Sometimes, it’s better to shut up than open fire at random.

2) Train so that you are the one who is hearing the “truth” you wanna say

How would you feel if you hear it about yourself? This becomes a more important exercise when the listener is someone you love.

3) Respect the universe of others

How much do you know about the person to whom you are about to talk? How his/her past or present impact the way he/she acts and, especially, receives criticism or negative comments?

4) Think about a positive way to say the truth

Usually there is one. Say where a person is doing good instead of their mistakes. There are also the cases when you are just expressing yourself badly. This tip usually corrects this too.

5) Honesty is a valuable asset

Never consider being honest as a bad thing. It is a virtue. But this doesn’t mean it can’t be faceted to improve your life and that of your beloved ones.

6) Apologize

You couldn’t follow any of these tips? And, again, were unnecessarily rude/selfish/impolite? Congratulations! At least you already admit this happens. Now, go there and apologize, come on.

7) But… The “fuck it!” moment still exists

You have done everything you can and have been very careful, but, still, the person turned on the “drama mode”? Or — WORSE — remembered that you use to be harsh to justify that they can’t accept any criticism? Maybe that’s the moment to turn your back and say “let it go!” or even shut up and do another thing. The “‘fuck it!” moment also means to go on and wait for a new opportunity to be a better person.

*Special thanks to Ray Climie, my english teacher, for helping me with the translation. See the original in portuguese here.

Originally published at on August 14, 2015.

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