Four Tips to Speak with Honestly and Empathy - Step To Health
 

Four Tips to Speak with Honestly and Empathy

An excess of empathy can lead us to lie to avoid harming other people. Similarly, too much sincerity can make us seem rude. How do we balance these two elements in our relationships? We'll explore this question in this article.
Four Tips to Speak with Honestly and Empathy

Last update: 25 December, 2021

How can we speak with honesty and empathy?

Honesty is a fundamental value when it comes to relating to other people. Nobody likes to find out that they’ve been cheated, lied to, or betrayed. This inevitably results in a loss of trust towards the person who lied or betrayed them.

However, when it comes to being honest, not everything goes, especially if we take into account that the feelings of others are at stake. Therefore, honesty and empathy are two concepts that must go hand in hand.

In today’s societies, individualism, competitiveness, and a misunderstood sense of independence seem to prevail. Because of this, we sometimes assume that honesty is the best policy, but we forget the consequences that our words can have on others. So how can we be frank and empathetic at the same time?

We’ll take a closer look at this interesting question in this article.

What is honesty?

Honesty is the ability to align thoughts, words, and actions. In this way, the person expresses what he considers to be true and, in the same way, acts following what he thinks and says. When it comes to true honesty, there’s no room for lies, falsehoods, or concealment. Nor is there room for empty words or broken promises.

An honest person is real and true and expresses this truth even if the consequences are unfavorable. Overall, this is a personal value closely related to integrity and respect for oneself and others.

What is empathy?

Empathy is the ability to put ourselves in the place of another person to understand their thought process and identify the emotions they experience. To be empathetic is to be considerate of the internal and emotional world of the other. Also, it involves going through the exercise of leaving oneself to adopt the position of who we have in front of us.

An empathic person does not judge, lie, or humiliate others because they understand the repercussions of these acts on other people. Also, by stopping to feel that pain as their own, they choose the path of understanding, kindess, and human warmth.

You’ll definitely find this interesting: What is Healthy Selfishness and How Can You Practice It?

Although at first glance it may seem that honesty and empathy are two terms with little in common, the reality is that their conjunction is essential in daily life. That is to say, either of them, without the other, can bring negative consequences.

For example, an excess of empathy leads to lying to avoid harming the other. This is what we commolhy know as “white lies.” Although it can avoid conflicts in the short term, this behavior ends up generating feelings of guilt and causing a feeling of betrayal in the other when the lack of honesty is discovered.

However, on the other hand, sincerity without empathy is not always kind or pratcial, either. Being direct and sincere without considering the emotional aspect can make other people perceive us as rude or disrespectful. As a consequence, we may experience social rejection or interpersonal conflicts.

Four tips for speaking honestly and empathetically

Ultimately, honesty and empathy must go hand in hand if we want to maintain healthy interpersonal relationships. However, applying these two concepts together is not always easy. Therefore, we’d like to propose some keys to achieve a healthy balance.

1. Honor and respect the other person

When communicating with other people, we must remember that respect must always prevail. Respecting the other implies considering them worthy of knowing the truth and, therefore, being honest with them.

However, it also means considering their feelings, as no one deliberately harms a person they respect.

2. Work on your assertiveness

Assertive communication is a must. Sometimes, the fear of being rejected or that our opinion is poorly received leads us to lie to try to please other people. For this reason, it’s necessary to improve our self-confidence and learn to express ourselves assertively.

Similarly, if we get carried away by aggressiveness and cannot control impulses, we can hurt the other person with our words. Remember that to assert your point of view, you don’t have to undermine or belittle others.

3. Use constructive language when speaking with honesty and empathy

To convey an unpleasant message to another person, it’s best to use constructive language. What does this mean?

Knowing how to choose the right words and offer proposals and solutions instead of criticizing or judging.

4. Take care of non-verbal communication

Non-verbal communication has an even greater weight than words when delivering a message. Thus, aspects such as the tone of voice used, body posture, or the time and place chosen to communicate an idea can make a difference. It is a good idea to pay attention to these aspects so that the other person doesn’t feel attacked or threatened when you’re being honest with them.

Honesty and empathy are the keys to healthy communication

Values define us as people and are demonstrated through our actions and interactions with others. Practicing honesty and empathy in daily life can be an effort at the beginning, but in the long run, it will bring us higher levels of personal and social well-being. Give it a try!

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  • Fernández-Pinto, I., López-Pérez, B., & Márquez, M. (2008). Empatía: Medidas, teorías y aplicaciones en revisión. Anales de Psicología/Annals of Psychology24(2), 284-298.
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