When does honesty become rudeness?

I would like to hear some opinions from you straight dopers on this topic. :slight_smile:

It is rude when it is unnecessary. Not that you should tell a lie but that anything need be said at all.

“How do I look?”
“Your clothes are fine but your nose is huge and ugly.”

Assume the bit about the nose is 100% true so the response was honest but rude.

I would say that it depends on the nature of the ‘honesty’, the context, the type of relationship of the people in question, and their cultural backgrounds. Broad answer for a broad question. Maybe you have a specific example?

Context is everything. Even “how do I look?” doesn’t always require an honest answer, depending on your relationship to the asker and the situation in which the question is asked.

There seems to be a large body of opinion that holds that you can say anything you want, anywhere anytime to anybody, as long as it’s the “truth”. This is utter nonsense, and worse, bad manners.

As soon as anyone mentions my breath. :smiley:

Fagjunk Theology: Not just for sodomite propagandists anymore.

It depends on the terms in which the honesty is expressed. The question, “How do I look,” can be answered in a gentle way that still gets across the opinion of the person answering. “I like your hair better when it’s pulled back,” sounds nicer than “You look like you just stuck your finger in a light socket.”

There is always a “diplomatic” answer to a question. The key is to let the person know where a flaw lies, but to do it in as kind a manner as possible. Cruelty is always rude, and bluntness is not always the best tactic.

It is always best to answer a question of opinion as positively as possible. If someone asks if you liked the paper they wrote, it’s much better to reply by pointing out that you liked these certain points, but maybe this area could be better expressed using a different approach, than to say that the paper was crap.

Often when a person asks for an opinion, they know that something is a bit “off” and are looking for constructive criticism and encouragement. Too much blunt “honesty” in such a situation can be hurtful. It’s always best to avoid being harsh wherever possible, but offer helpful suggestions.


I think your question is overly broad. (Was that rude of me to say that?)

Actually, I sense you have a specific situation in mind that you want feedback on. If so, why don’t you lay it out? Might make for a more informed debate. But I could be wrong…

I know someone who thinks her frankness is a virtue. I think her frankness can be a virtue, but it can also be obnoxious.

“Telling it like it is” always requires a certain degree of tact. Saying something sucks is rude. Saying something needs improvement is not. Also, I think blunt honesty should come only when it is solicited, and when there’s mutual respect between people. It’s rude to criticize someone you don’t know. And it’s rude to criticize them when they haven’t requested your opinion in the first place.

“If you had been alive 2000 years ago, I think they would have stoned you.”

Do you mean someone like Simon from American Idol?

Someone who is considered “honest” by some, and “rude” by others?

In Simon’s case he could just say “you weren’t good enough.” or “you didn’t make it.” instead of comments along the lines of “you are the worst singer in the world.” He takes out his annoyance at having to sit through all the auditions on the ones that don’t do well. Now, while I sympathize with him in his frustration at having to sit through a lot of bad acts a lot of his comments are unwarrented. Frankly, they really should have a better pre-screening process so that the truly lousy ones don’'t go up in front of him he would probably be a bit less sarcastic to the ones he judges to be not good enough.

Maybe Simon just has a very peculiar sense of humour.

I think honesty becomes rude when the person in question doesnt want to hear the truth.

If they were to do this, there would be no reason to watch the show whatsoever.

YES! You just read my mind, Simon is an example. Some say he is extremely rude, while others say he is just being honest.

Simon is not being rude, he’s being and ENTERTAINER.

I totally agree-In fact I think they make sure that some pretty bad people are included just for that reason.

There is a rationale behind Simon’s brutality: if people are just told “sorry, you didn’t make it” they may think they have talent and continue wasting their time pursuing a career in music. Telling them they are really, really terrible might prompt them to move on to something where they have a reasonable shot at success.

Yes, it’s rude, but it’s rude for a reason.

However, it appeared that a lot of people didn’t believe Simon.

True 'nuff. Ironically, it was usually the least talented people who refused to believe they lacked talent. Some people are just impervious to reality, even when smacked upside the head by a Simon Cowell clue-by-four.

But surely some sizeable portion of the contestants took the admonition seriously. Now they can focus on studying engineering or interior design or whatever else floats their boats.