Jordan (@JordanHarbinger) and Gabe (@GabeMizrahi) take a deep dive into the pros and cons of candor, how honesty is a core element of all healthy and productive relationships, and why we owe it to others — as well as ourselves.
What We Discuss:
- Honesty deepens relationships. It requires a great deal of trust and confidence — in ourselves and in our friends — and it implies a whole new conception of what friendship actually is.
- Honesty attracts people who share your values. You’ll draw people into your life who also value candor, and you’ll distance yourself from people who aren’t interested in an authentic relationship.
- Honesty secures honesty in return. When you’re honest with the people in your life, you also signal to them that they can be honest with you.
- How to be honest — without being honestly the worst. Deciding to be honest with a friend doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily right. It just means that you’re willing to share an authentic response, and then explore it with the other person to arrive at the best possible conclusion.
- How to recognize that there are times when it’s okay to not be honest. For all the benefits of radical honesty, it’s wise to be aware of situations in which honesty will not serve you well — or where total candor just isn’t appropriate.
- And much more…
Like this show? Please leave us a review here — even one sentence helps! Consider including your Twitter handle so we can thank you personally!
Honesty is a tricky business. As much as we tell ourselves it’s the best policy, we’re reluctant to present it to others, unvarnished, for fear of offense. And when it’s nakedly reflected back to us without revision, the lesson this truth is meant to teach us may be obscured by the heat of our cheeks blushing with shame. But here’s the thing about honesty: as uncomfortable as it may be to give or receive, we owe it to others, and — this is the part that’s most often forgotten — we owe it to ourselves.
On this episode, we take a deep dive into why, in spite of our complicated rapport with honesty, it’s a core element of all healthy, productive relationships. We owe it to other people to be candid, because candor is how we grow, connect, and avoid even more adversity down the road. And we owe it to ourselves because without it, we avoid authentic relationships and settle for inauthentic ones (and then wonder, strangely, why our relationships don’t satisfy us). We miss out on the gift of empowering our friends to be honest with us in return. Most importantly, we fail to cultivate integrity. Integrity in both senses of the term — being honest and having strong principles, and being whole and undivided. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
To solidify your understanding of these game-changing principles and practicals, make sure to read this episode’s companion article here: Do You Owe Your Friends Honesty?
Please Scroll Down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
Please note that some of the links on this page (books, movies, music, etc.) lead to affiliate programs for which The Jordan Harbinger Show receives compensation. It’s just one of the ways we keep the lights on around here. Thank you for your support!
Sign up for Six-Minute Networking — our free networking and relationship development mini course — at jordanharbinger.com/course!
This Episode Is Sponsored By:
- HVMN: Go to HVMN.me/jordan for 20% off Ketone-IQ
- Athletic Greens: Visit athleticgreens.com/jordan for a free one-year supply of vitamin D and five free travel packs with your first purchase
- BetterHelp: Get 10% off your first month at betterhelp.com/jordan
- Progressive: Get a free online quote at progressive.com
Miss the show we did with James Fallon — the psychiatry professor who can teach you how to spot a psychopath because he is a psychopath? Catch up here with episode 28: James Fallon | How to Spot a Psychopath!
Click here to let Jordan know about your number one takeaway from this episode!
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at email@example.com.
Resources from This Episode:
- Do You Owe Your Friends Honesty? | Jordan Harbinger
- Sam Harris | Rationally Confronting the Irrational | Jordan Harbinger
- How to Avoid Scams | Deep Dive | Jordan Harbinger
- Coffeezilla | How to Expose Fake Guru Scams | Jordan Harbinger
- Ray Dalio | Principles of an Investing Pioneer Part One | Jordan Harbinger
- How to Break up with a Friend | Jordan Harbinger
731: Why We Owe People Honesty | Deep Dive
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people. We have in-depth conversations with scientists and entrepreneurs, spies and psychologists, even the occasional organized crime figure, Russian spy, undercover agent, or neuroscientist. Each episode turns our guest's wisdom into practical advice that you can use to build a deeper understanding of how the world works and become a better thinker.
[00:00:29] If you're new to the show or you want to tell your friends about it — and of course, I appreciate it when you do that — I suggest our episode starter packs as a jumping-off point. These are collections of our favorite episodes organized by topic. That'll help new listeners get a taste of everything that we do here on this show — topics like persuasion and influence, negotiation and communication, abnormal psychology, scams, crime and cults, and more. Just visit jordanharbinger.com/start or search for us in your Spotify app to get started.
[00:00:57] Today, I'm here with Feedback Friday producer Gabriel Mizrahi, and we're doing a deep dive on why you owe people honesty and of course, what that honesty looks like in practice, how to embrace more of it in your life, and how it can transform your relationships and your outcomes. So let's get to it.
[00:01:13] So Gabe, there's a lot of talk out there these days about radical honesty, extreme candor, radical candor—
[00:01:20] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:01:20] Jordan Harbinger: —honest candor or whatever.
[00:01:21] Gabriel Mizrahi: Speaking your mind.
[00:01:21] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, speaking your mind. Saying whatever the hell you want and then labeling it with a pop psychology term so that you can say, "I'm not being rude."
[00:01:28] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:01:28] Jordan Harbinger: It's become kind of a staple of contemporary self-help, the whole, "Saying it like it is and not self-censoring." In fact, just the other day, someone sent me an objectively rude comment on LinkedIn—
[00:01:41] Gabriel Mizrahi: Oh.
[00:01:41] Jordan Harbinger: And then went, "Sorry for keeping it real," and I was like, "No, you don't have to be sorry for keeping it real. You should be sorry for acting like a jerk in my inbox."
[00:01:49] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:01:50] Jordan Harbinger: And then being like, "This is just feedback and if you can't handle it, maybe you can't handle it." And I'm like, "No, you're just insulting me in my inbox. There's no feedback here that's valid because to think that your opinion is the arbiter of truth, eh, I digress."
[00:02:01] But whether it's your friends, your family, your boss, your colleagues, people you date, this whole self-censoring thing or not self-censoring, it's trending up. And given how much deceit there is in the world now, whether it's big lies or little lies, it's a really important shift to make. Obviously, the world would be a lot better if we were all more honest, but honesty is a tricky concept. On one level, we all crave honesty, but on another level we kind of dread it. We dread receiving it, we dread giving it.
[00:02:28] And I'm convinced, Gabriel, that's one of the reasons people send, kind of the rude thing is they go, "I'm going to rip off the Band-Aid." And then they just say it in this brutal way because it's easier to do that.
[00:02:38] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mmm. Right.
[00:02:38] Jordan Harbinger: And then, they almost feel like, "Well, if I'm going to do it, I'm going to lean into it." Getting brutally honest opinions from people is a source of great anxiety for a lot of folks, myself included. We often feel threatened by them, injured by them, betrayed by them. Case in point, my example earlier, maybe he meant well. We know how difficult it is to be on the receiving end of difficult feedback, so we often withhold it from other people in return, and then we justify this as some kind of act of kindness or respect. When in reality, we're contributing to a dynamic that is often inauthentic, deceitful, avoidant, even when our intentions are originally good.
[00:03:12] And I was reminded of that when we re-aired my old interview with Sam Harris a couple of months ago. Sam Harris, of course, the philosopher, author, podcaster, really interesting guy, great mind, great thinker. In that interview, Sam talked a lot about being more candid with people and how important that is for their growth and for our own integrity. And also how not telling the truth creates far worse outcomes than a few ruffled feathers or some hurt feelings.
[00:03:36] So we'll be drawing a lot on Sam's wisdom in this episode, connecting it up with what Gabe and I have come to learn about this topic over the years. So that's what we're talking about today, why leading with honesty is so important, especially with friends. We're going to be talking mostly about friends in this deep dive, but all the same principles apply to family, colleagues, partners, anyone you have a meaningful relationship with, really. We're also going to be talking about the limits of radical honesty, which is something that honesty evangelists don't talk about very often, when it's okay and maybe even smart to just not be totally honest. And we're also going to talk about how leading with honesty can genuinely transform your relationships if you lead with the right intentions and approaches. And I think the best place for us to start is to recognize that honesty is actually a form of kindness.
[00:04:22] So for most of us, including me for a really long time, being brutally honest with people seems like the opposite of kindness. Sometimes giving your uncensored opinion can feel aggressive or even straight-up cruel. And that's because, from the time we're young, we're generally taught to hold back on our true opinions to protect other people's feelings or to protect ourselves from our own feelings if we really let people know the truth. And to be fair, there are some good reasons for that. We have to get along in society. We don't want to alienate our friends and family. We obviously shouldn't be monsters to other people, even if they kind of need to hear it. But the price of that self-censorship is depriving the people we care about of meaningful criticism. And when we do that, we elevate their short-term feelings above their long-term success. We assume a weaker version of them, a version that can't handle a challenging conversation. We then confirm that weakness by withholding, sometimes even create that weakness by withholding, and then our worst assumptions about our friends kind of become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
[00:05:22] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mmm.
[00:05:23] Jordan Harbinger: By holding back the truth, we also put our own need for comfort above our friends' need for guidance. We prioritize our desire to avoid conflict over their desire for growth. We censor difficult messages to make things easier for people, but in the process, we almost always make things hard. Sam Harris touched on this in the interview that I mentioned. When we talked about the value of real feedback, he questioned the whole — making it easier for the person by holding back idea. Take a listen to this clip.
[00:05:51] Sam Harris: It's often making it easier, in the sense, that you're telling them what they want to hear or telling them something more pleasant than is in fact what's true. But you might also be causing them to waste a tremendous amount of time or encouraging them to waste a tremendous amount of time where you could be helping them to get their life on track in a way that other people around them aren't.
[00:06:14] Jordan Harbinger: So I think what Sam was getting at there was when we talk about protecting our friends' feelings, we tend to think very narrowly about what protecting them really means. It's an interesting question. Is our job to protect our friends' feelings in the short term or to protect their chances of success in the long term? And if we spare them some difficult feedback now, are we really protecting their feelings? Or are we just coddling their vulnerabilities, validating their lesser work, maybe even enabling their mistakes?
[00:06:43] The older I get, the more I appreciate that true kindness is candor. It's the opposite of what we're taught our whole lives, which is that being kind usually means being dishonest to some degree. When we're honest with people in our lives, we're implicitly saying, "I value you. I take you seriously. I want to see you succeed." That is a powerful message to send, and if you've ever been on the receiving end of it, you know how kind, truly kind that can be.
[00:07:08] Gabriel Mizrahi: Man, that is so true. I mean, it can be a little bit wounding to get criticism. We all know that feeling, but when the feedback is good, when it comes from a genuine place when it's delivered in a respectful way, it hits different. It might sting a little sometimes, but you can feel the kindness underneath good feedback, and that is so much better than empty compliments or half-truths. But on a more practical level, being honest also helps people avoid even more pain down the road. Because when we withhold honest feedback, we're usually just setting the other person up to struggle even more sometime in the future.
[00:07:43] So again, Sam Harris brought this up in your interview, Jordan, and he gave this example. Imagine that your friend writes a manuscript for a book and asks you to read it, and you read it and you think it's terrible.
[00:07:55] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:07:55] Gabriel Mizrahi: Now, obviously, as he put it, it would be really nice for both of you if you loved it, then you could just give them props, say congratulations, and you could just rest assured that your friendship is intact. But Sam has a different take. Listen to this.
[00:08:08] Sam Harris: If a friend of yours comes to you with something that he spent a lot of time working on, and you think it's terrible. If you think you're helping them by sparing them this momentary discomfort of you not supporting their rosiest conception of themselves, yeah, I think you really need to look more closely at that. Because I've been on both sides of this and I can tell you that the people who didn't give me honest feedback or just didn't have good critical feedback to give were far less helpful to me than the people who said, "Listen, you have to tear this thing down to the studs. This is awful. You're lucky only I saw this." Other people who aren't their friends are not going to spare them their criticism.
[00:08:50] Jordan Harbinger: I remember that that was one of my favorite moments in the interview, especially coming from such a prolific author, somebody who's really at the top of his game, multiple best sellers. To know that that guy produces subpar work sometimes that people go, "Actually, this is crap and you're lucky only I saw this." Even he needs people to tell him when it sucks so he can push himself to do better.
[00:09:09] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:09:10] Jordan Harbinger: I don't know. I find that encouraging. It's weirdly comforting.
[00:09:13] Gabriel Mizrahi: Totally. And I'm sure inviting honesty is part of the reason that he does such good work. And to his point, if you don't give a friend your unvarnished opinion when they really need it, somebody else eventually will. And probably somebody who doesn't have the same allegiance to them. Also, somebody who probably has way less sensitivity to their feelings, and the consequences of that feedback in the future, those are going to be much tougher.
[00:09:34] Jordan Harbinger: For sure. You might want to spare their feelings by saying, "Oh, it's really good. I liked it. I don't have any notes." But their agent is not going to do that. Their publisher is not going to do that. The public definitely will not do that.
[00:09:46] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah. As you found out with that email—
[00:09:47] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:09:47] Gabriel Mizrahi: —you just got from a listener.
[00:09:48] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:09:49] Gabriel Mizrahi: And as Sam pointed out, there's probably little or nothing your friend can do to improve it at that stage. Like once it's out in the world, it's too late. Then at that point, you've actually contributed to a worse situation for your friend. And now, you either have to break the news when it's too late to be useful or you have to comfort them and tell them, "You know, oh, it's not so bad," neither of which is really serving them.
[00:10:10] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, you got to pile another lie on there. So it's like, which one is actually worse?
[00:10:13] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:10:14] Jordan Harbinger: Hurting their feelings a little bit now or accidentally creating a situation where their feelings are really hurt down the road and maybe there's other damage to boot.
[00:10:22] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah. And when they might be even more surprised that that was the reaction and they might not even understand why.
[00:10:27] Jordan Harbinger: Right. But look, this is not just about career stuff or creative projects.
[00:10:32] Gabriel Mizrahi: No.
[00:10:32] Jordan Harbinger: This also applies to major life decisions, values, relationships, including your friendship with the person in question.
[00:10:39] So let's imagine a very different scenario. A friend opens up to you about their tumultuous relationship with a toxic person, and you just kind of sit there and you bite your tongue. By not telling them that they're in a dysfunctional relationship and need to leave, you are essentially validating them. You're maybe even enabling their poor choice. Eventually down the line, yeah, they're going to get the message, but when it comes from a police officer or a divorce attorney, or they've just wasted three freaking years on this person, or they have a kid with them, whatever, the costs are so much higher.
[00:11:09] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:11:10] Jordan Harbinger: Here's another example. Imagine, a friend tells you about an obviously shady self-help program that they're involved in. The kinds we talk about here on the show. They're caught up in a scam. You know it. You don't say anything because you don't want to seem judgmental, even though you just heard our podcast on whatever scam MLM thing. At some point though, probably after they burn through a ton of money, they burn through a bunch of time, energy, self-worth takes a big hit, they're going to come to that conclusion themselves. But you could have saved them a lot of that trouble by being forthright with them from the jump.
[00:11:42] So being honest with a friend when they can benefit from your feedback the most, that's the best way to avoid more negative experiences, whether it's failure, regret, resentment, confusion, disillusionment, whatever it is. Again, you're risking short-term discomfort to give someone the gift of greater success down the line. But everything we're talking about is getting at a bigger theme here, which is that honesty actually deepens relationships in general. Because when you self-censor to spare a friend's feelings, what you're doing is really chipping away at the intimacy of your relationship, right?
[00:12:13] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:12:13] Jordan Harbinger: You put distance between the two of you by treating certain topics as off limits. You build a relationship that's designed to protect their ego and your comfort rather than empower the both of you to grow. You also create a dynamic in which you let yourself off the hook for difficult conversations instead of leaning into those meaningful exchanges.
[00:12:32] Gabriel Mizrahi: That is a really important point. The relationship then becomes a way to sort of service you and your friends' vulnerabilities or your fears or your discomfort around certain topics, not to actually build each other up.
[00:12:44] Jordan Harbinger: Exactly. And that makes you even less likely to speak up when you have an opinion in the future, and that in turn, deprives the other person of even more valuable feedback. On some level, they might even resent you for not helping them in the way they truly need, even if they can't consciously articulate that in that particular moment.
[00:13:02] Sam talked about this in our interview as well, how being honest with people signals that you're on the same team. Honesty doesn't have to be adversarial. This is how he explains it.
[00:13:12] Sam Harris: You're trying to have a better relationship. There's a psychological cost that you are paying for having to conceal how you really feel about something in this person's presence. And you don't want to pay that cost any more because you want to have a better relationship with them. You know, you respect them too much or you love them too much. Or you're like this is intolerable that this is so weird that you can't talk about how you feel about X, Y, and Z with your mom.
[00:13:39] Jordan Harbinger: So that psychological cost of dishonesty, he's talking about, it's actually a lot higher than most of us realize. We tend to avoid honesty because it's uncomfortable, but what we're really doing is trading one form of discomfort for another. Instead of possibly hurting someone we love by being honest, we settle for the disappointment or inauthenticity of a weakened relationship. The resentment and awkwardness that build up in these relationships, it's almost always worse than the temporary discomfort of just being open. But that's a trade-off that most people make on a daily basis.
[00:14:11] In Sam's view, what you're really doing when you shy away from honesty is avoiding a relationship with another person. When we shy away from being open even to spare ourselves, we're really shying away from the messy, difficult, but more important work of intimacy. The more you censor yourself in a friendship, the more the friendship shrinks. You're implicitly saying, "Eh, there are certain things we just can't talk about because they're too difficult or overwhelming for you or for me, or maybe for both of us." But the more you lead with candor, the more you open up new territory for the relationship to explore. You signal to the other person that they are deserving of your honesty.
[00:14:48] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, that they're deserving of your honesty, and also that you have confidence that the relationship can withstand the temporary discomfort of a very honest exchange. Because there's something more important at stake here, which is you and the other person being real with each other and having each other's backs, even when it's a little bit difficult.
[00:15:06] And that brings us to another important point, which is that honesty attracts people who share your values. So there's an interesting thing that happens when you start being more honest with your friends. You tend to draw people into your life who also value candor, and you tend to distance yourself a little bit from people who just aren't as interested in having an honest relationship. The reason, as Jordan just explained, is that being honest with a friend, that assumes that they're equipped to receive that honesty, that you have that confidence in them, and it really invites them to rise to the occasion of your candor. And it also pushes you to stick with people who can tolerate that healthy discomfort.
[00:15:44] Now, look, it's perfectly natural to seek out people who prop us up, who make us feel good, who make us feel safe. The healthy narcissism in all of us craves that recognition, right? There's nothing wrong with validation. We definitely need that too. Actually, in my view, being radically honest means being radically honest in both directions. You know about what you like and what you don't like, about what works and what doesn't work. So when you commit to candor, that doesn't automatically mean that you have to be a critic 100 percent of the time. I think that's important to remember too. In fact, some people tend to withhold in the other direction, right? They don't give any positive feedback when it's appropriate because they're so fixated on offering criticism.
[00:16:28] Jordan Harbinger: You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show. This is a deep dive on honesty. We'll be right.
[00:16:33] This episode is sponsored in part by HVMN. I've been getting fit and I get my fuel from ketones during my workouts. I don't have to starve myself or whatever the other option was. I take HVMN's Ketone-IQ supplements. There's no sugar, there's no salt, there's no caffeine, but there is a horrible flavor. So that's how I know it works because it tastes like used motor oil and WD-40 sloshed around together. Let's be honest, no, it's not an ideal flavor thing. But in terms of athletic performance and helping to crush my four-times-a-week workouts, it really can't be beat. They got a multimillion-dollar contract with the Department of Defense. The military is transitioning the special forces to using ketones, which is pretty damn cool. I'm a skeptic usually, especially if supplements. I was like, "Ketones, does this do anything?" It's been several months now. I take it before every workout. You can definitely tell that something is different. I'm not as hungry later in the day. I'm in a better mood. They pair well with caffeine. I really enjoy that. It's just more focused energy that's not jittery and I really appreciate that. A lot of my extreme athlete friends were the ones who recommended it to me because, of course, my immediate gut reaction to a supplement was, "No, thank," but these guys are hooked on it. For 20 percent off your order of Ketone-IQ, go to hvmn.com and use promo code JORDAN. Again, that's H-V-M-N.com, promo code JORDAN for 20 percent off Ketone-IQ.
[00:17:50] This episode is also sponsored by Athletic Greens. Athletic Greens is a product that Jen and I take every single day. We just mix a scoop of Athletic Greens with a cup of water in a bottle. I like to drink it in the morning. I almost spilled one all over my audio desk this morning, in fact. Each scoop has 75 vitamins, minerals, whole foods sourced, superfoods, probiotics, and adaptogens that are high quality. Your body will actually absorb. No need for a million different pills and supplements to look out for your health. Athletic Greens is like an all-in-one nutritional insurance. It's cheaper and easier than getting all the different supplements yourself. No GMOs, no nasty chemicals, no artificial anything. I bring it on flights when I travel. Even professional athletes take Athletic Greens to stay healthy. It's time to reclaim your health and arm your immune system with convenient daily nutrition, especially heading into the flu and cold season, which if you have little kids, is all year round.
[00:18:36] Jen Harbinger: To make it easy, Athletic Greens is going to give you a free one-year supply of immune-supporting vitamin D and five free travel packs with your first purchase. All you have to do is visit athleticgreens.com/jordan. Again, that's athleticgreens.com/jordan to take ownership over your health and pick up the ultimate daily nutritional insurance.
[00:18:55] Jordan Harbinger: By the way, we talked a lot about relationships in this episode, and of course, the value of honesty in relationships. If you need to build and maintain more relationships, I'm teaching you how I do that. It's our Six-Minute Networking course. The course is free. It's over at jordanharbinger.com/course. Networking but not the gross kind, the non-schmoozy kind, the kind that doesn't make you feel icky like you need a shower after. It is life changing for business and it'll do great for your personal life as well. Again, all free at jordanharbinger.com/course, and many of the guests you hear on the show, they subscribe and contribute to the course. So come join us, you'll be in smart company where you belong.
[00:19:33] Now back to our deep dive on honesty.
[00:19:37] That's another thing people kind of overlook in the whole radical honesty conversation.
[00:19:41] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:19:41] Jordan Harbinger: I would argue that only offering criticism and withholding meaningful validation that's just as harmful as only validating somebody, maybe even more so.
[00:19:50] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, definitely. And it's funny because I see that all the time with my writing. In my experience, it's just as important for me to know what is working in a story as it is to know what isn't working. And I have to really work to seek out difficult feedback a lot of the time. But I also really need people to reflect back to me like, "Yeah, that joke is funny. This scene is working. I like what you did with this character." Whatever it is, I need that feedback to come in both directions. I need to know what's good and I also need to know what's not working.
[00:20:16] Jordan Harbinger: Right, because sometimes you need someone else to get excited about what you are excited about or to validate a good choice.
[00:20:21] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:20:22] Jordan Harbinger: Or just to give you props for what you are doing well before they help you see what you are not doing well.
[00:20:27] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mmm.
[00:20:28] Jordan Harbinger: It's not just, you know, being artificially inflated or coddled or whatever. That someone is seeing you or your work or your choices for what they are and holding up a mirror to what you're doing well. I agree. That is super important.
[00:20:40] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, that's a great way to put it. But that's different from selective praise or unqualified validation. That's just designed to stroke your ego. That's the kind of censorship that we've been talking about. That's what truly doesn't serve us. What we need, what everyone needs is meaningful criticism, unvarnished opinions. Those might sting, but we need to choose to seek that out from the people we trust. Once you start doing that, your relationships tend to become a lot clearer, and they also become a lot more productive.
[00:21:07] Jordan Harbinger: So it's interesting being more honest, inviting honesty, that's actually a way to instantly elevate your relationships in general.
[00:21:14] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, absolutely.
[00:21:15] Jordan Harbinger: And also a kind of litmus test for your relationships. Like which ones are actually strong? Which ones are actually authentic?
[00:21:22] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:21:22] Jordan Harbinger: Which ones can tolerate the healthy conflict of disagreement? Oh, let me find out. Let me tell this friend what I really think of their problematic partner. Let me ask this friend to give me notes on my article. Are they really willing to go there or are they just going to shut down or get mad or pull away?
[00:21:38] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, and their response will tell you a lot about whether that friendship still serves you, if it still lives up to your values. The more you step into honesty, the more you'll begin to appreciate that candor in other people. And also, the less you'll seek out people who would rather spare your feelings than really help you grow. And that's how you tend to attract people who share your values and not just the value of honesty, but all of these related values, right? Like growth and transparency and generosity, curiosity, kindness, passion, all the stuff that makes up this experience we call honesty.
[00:22:12] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that's powerful for sure because when you find people who do value honesty, the same way you do a virtuous cycle kicks in where that honesty secures even more honesty in return.
[00:22:23] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:22:24] Jordan Harbinger: When you're candid with the people in your life, you're signaling to them that they can be candid with you.
[00:22:29] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:22:29] Jordan Harbinger: There's no implicit agreement that both of you were going to tiptoe around uncomfortable facts or withhold important feedback. You create a space for the other person to reciprocate your candor. Sam Harris talked about this in our interview as well, how being honest with other people fundamentally changes the dynamic of a friendship. Sam put it this way.
[00:22:47] Sam Harris: You train the people in your life. They know what to expect from you. I don't find people coming to me anymore who don't actually want to know what I think, and that's also very helpful. And then people return the favor. If you are someone who was really honest in criticizing what somebody was doing and then you need criticism of your own work, well then you can get it. You know, there are people who are locked and loaded and ready to return in kind.
[00:23:12] Gabriel Mizrahi: I love that one of the things Sam values about honesty isn't just that people return the favor when he needs it. It's that they don't waste his goddamn time anymore.
[00:23:20] Jordan Harbinger: Classic Sam Harris somehow. But it's also huge. You don't spend two weeks reading someone's manuscript who's going to turn around and get freaking mad at you for telling them that it needs work.
[00:23:30] Sam Harris: Yeah.
[00:23:30] Jordan Harbinger: Or sit through a three-and-a-half-hour lunch with somebody who complains about their awful partner. And then refuses to engage when you're like, "Hey, I think you might want to rethink this relationship."
[00:23:40] Gabriel Mizrahi: I mean, it's a secondary benefit of honesty, but it is so important when you're candid and you're candor self-selects for people who appreciate that, the value of your time just instantly goes up.
[00:23:50] Jordan Harbinger: Of course, because when you tell someone the truth, you create a tone, you set the tone for the relationship overall, right? You're basically saying, "I take you seriously enough to share my honest opinion and I trust that you're ready and willing to hear it, and I'm also making it safe for you to treat me the same way. That's what our new relationship is going to be about."
[00:24:10] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mmm.
[00:24:10] Jordan Harbinger: That's a healthy dynamic in a friendship. It's also a very powerful ethos for companies, families, any kind of community, although I would say that most of them still struggle to embrace it. The ones that do though, they tend to generate remarkable results. I'm thinking about places like Ray Dalio's hedge fund, where he's basically institutionalized radical candor in a way that avoids a lot of dysfunction and exposes people to the tough feedback they need to get better. It might also be a little bumpy sometimes, I understand, but the net result is a higher performance workplace and also one with more accountability where people learn to tolerate the discomfort of direct confrontation.
[00:24:48] So right now you might be thinking, "Okay, cool. I agree with everything you guys are saying in principle, but can I really be brutally honest with everyone in my life a hundred percent of the time? Can I really be that person with my friends and my family and my colleagues without hurting them or driving them away?" And that is a fair question because as we all know, honesty is powerful, but it's not always easy and it's also not always possible given the circumstances. So, what's the line between honesty and sensitivity? How do you balance your need for candor with the practical realities of power and politics and just not wanting to be an a-hole all the time?
[00:25:26] Well, the first step is to make sure that you are being honest in the right spirit. So it's important to recognize right off the bat that deciding to be honest with somebody, it doesn't mean you're necessarily right. It just means that you're willing to share an authentic response and then explore it with the other person to arrive at the best possible conclusion. There doesn't have to be a presumption of superiority. You can be honest without claiming the intellectual high ground, so to speak. But we all know that a lot of the so-called honest people, they're not like this at all. A lot of the people who describe themselves as radically honest, they're just being dicks, right?
[00:26:03] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right. Yep.
[00:26:03] Jordan Harbinger: They use their radical honesty to justify being harsh. They're smug. It's unkind. There's an error of superiority about them that's totally unnecessary.
[00:26:12] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:26:12] Jordan Harbinger: Or they let themselves off the hook for being sensitive and appropriate or tactful at all. Obviously, that brand of honesty is not going to generate the benefits we've been talking about in this episode. In fact, it'll most certainly work against you. I've met some of these authors in real life who write books about this kind of thing. I'm obviously not going to mention any names, and I'm not talking about a show guest or anything—
[00:26:32] Gabriel Mizrahi: Sure.
[00:26:32] Jordan Harbinger: But I remember being like, "Oh, super radical, uncensored honesty," and just being like, "This person is a prick." Nobody asked him to be honest about this or that—
[00:26:44] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:26:44] Jordan Harbinger: He just speaks his mind. And then, you could tell, he had a tell. He would look for your reaction every time, and you could tell he got a little bit of joy out of just like poking everyone's balloon, popping everyone's balloon—
[00:26:57] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:26:57] Jordan Harbinger: —raining on everybody's parade. And then he is like, "Well, I'm the guy who wrote the book on da da da." And it's like, "Yeah, but nobody asked you for this."
[00:27:03] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:27:04] Jordan Harbinger: You just gave yourself a license to be a jerk everywhere. And then you use it to hawk your book.
[00:27:08] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:27:08] Jordan Harbinger: Go screw yourself, dude.
[00:27:10] Gabriel Mizrahi: And it's on them if they're getting upset because they clearly are not evolved enough—
[00:27:14] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:27:14] Gabriel Mizrahi: —to receive my radical honesty.
[00:27:15] Jordan Harbinger: And it was just—
[00:27:16] Gabriel Mizrahi: Not the point.
[00:27:17] Jordan Harbinger: It was just the most Santa Monica thing ever. So being productively honest means sharing your candor in a helpful spirit in a way that's kind, supportive. And most importantly, it's got to be flexible. You can give a friend tough notes on their manuscript and you can still be respectful. You can offer a friend some tough relationship advice and you could be compassionate. You can tell a friend how they upset you and stay open to looking at the conflict from another perspective. Honesty doesn't imply righteousness or superiority. It just means speaking up when you have a point of view and then using that point of view to get to a better one.
[00:27:53] And I know, Gabriel, it's kind of funny, people will send us kind of angry notes. They'll be like, "On Feedback Friday, you let that person off too easy."
[00:28:00] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yep.
[00:28:00] Jordan Harbinger: Because we're doing exactly this and they wanted to see us shred that person like an FM radio talk show call in and I'm like, I'm not going to pull an Adam Corolla on this person. That's not necessary right now.
[00:28:13] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:28:13] Jordan Harbinger: And we do take some flack for that, but there's a reason that people come to us with sensitive topics. Nobody's going to do that if we're like, "All right, step one, you're a freaking idiot for getting yourself into this situation. Two—"
[00:28:25] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yep.
[00:28:25] Jordan Harbinger: "—might as well jump off a bridge now, buddy. Your life is over." I mean, that's what a lot of these shows are, like these FM shows, for example. And it's not really helpful, It's just entertaining for people listening. But people won't call with sensitive stuff if they think they're going to get that. And that sort of works against our mission.
[00:28:40] Again, Sam talked about how to share an opinion in the right spirit. Take a listen to this.
[00:28:45] Sam Harris: But if you're still in a position to give them some help by giving them honest feedback, then you really should give that feedback, and you can always give it in a way that acknowledges that it's just your opinion. You know, you're not omniscient. You're not the ultimate arbiter of what is good in the world.
[00:29:03] Jordan Harbinger: What a concept, huh? Another word for that position — humility.
[00:29:06] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:29:07] Jordan Harbinger: So as you become more honest, balance your candor with an appropriate degree of respect and thoughtfulness. Don't assume that you're radically honest opinion means that you're automatically right or that you're somehow better than the other person. Be willing to revise your position in light of new information. And remember that your opinion, it is just one perspective on the issue at hand and that other viewpoints, they might be equally true. They might even lead to better opinions.
[00:29:33] Gabriel Mizrahi: And I have to say, Jordan, I also see that play out in the Feedback Friday inbox when we get some of those brutal messages from—
[00:29:39] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:29:39] Gabriel Mizrahi: —people who are like, "You guys missed this whole point," or, "You completely let this person off the hook for this terrible thing they did," or whatever it is. Oftentimes, they are making an interesting point. Their only mistake is assuming that their point of view is the answer. So we'll usually say something like, "Yeah, that's a really good point of view, and by the way, we're going to pass that along anonymously to the person who wrote in, and if it helps them arrive at a better conclusion, great." And almost inevitably, and this is a huge credit to our listeners, people will write back and be like, "Oh, wow. I did not expect you to say that. Uhh, thank you. Uhh, you know what? You're right. There are probably a few angles on this. Happy to contribute mine." You know, it's just such an interesting point. It's hard to go wrong when you're not completely identified with the one opinion that you're sharing, but you're more interested in the potentially better opinion or decision, that being honest can help lead you to.
[00:30:29] And that brings us to another important principle, which is to get very clear on your intention. In other words, why you're being honest in the first place and what direction you're trying to head in by leading with candor. Because as we all know, honesty can be used in a lot of different ways. You can use it to empower someone or you can use it to cut them down or kind of make them feel bad for a decision you don't agree with. You can be honest and try to build somebody up, or you can use honesty to kind of build yourself up, which again, as we all know is, unfortunately, very common, especially with so-called radically honest people.
[00:31:03] Now, there are plenty of good reasons to be candid with a friend, right? You might want to validate them, you might want to help them. You might want to critique them. You might want to acknowledge a problem or an injury or resolve a wound or repair the relationship, or you might just want to get something off of your chest and clear the air and just go on record and say, "This is how I feel about this decision you made," or, "This thing you said to me," or whatever the case is. But whatever your reasons are for being honest, there are few intentions that will always serve you well no matter what — to arrive at the best possible answer, to deepen the relationship with the person in general, and to help the other person succeed. If you're always embodying those intentions, if you're trying to share your honesty with that spirit, it's really hard to go wrong.
[00:31:47] Jordan Harbinger: I agree completely. And that my experience says, just from doing the show and advising companies and stuff like that, I find that the best type of honesty — it really opens up a conversation where both parties collaborate to arrive at the best conclusion. It's not, "This is how I see things, and that's the answer. So you better fall in line." It's more like, "This is my take right now based on my experience. And what do you think? Let's see if this is true or helpful to you in this moment, and let's figure it out together." And sometimes, yeah, I'll nail it from the start, less common than I would like, of course. But I'd say more often, the conversation leads me to some better angle that I hadn't even considered before and that approach works in all kinds of situations, by the way.
[00:32:27] Instead of convincing a friend to immediately break up with their partner, you can share your perspective on their relationship in a way that helps them get more clarity and make the right decision for themselves. Or if a friend pisses you off by doing something hurtful, instead of insisting that they apologize right away, you can just share your experience of the injury and invite them to explain why they did what they did, and then you can appreciate what's going on for both of you.
[00:32:52] Gabriel Mizrahi: I like that a lot. Or to go back to the earlier example about the book manuscript that Sam talked about, instead of sitting down with their manuscript and just letting somebody have it and being like, "You need to rewrite this novel in a way that would please me," you can share your impression as a reader so that they can appreciate how they're writing is coming across to somebody who doesn't have all the same associations, who's new to the material.
[00:33:12] And ultimately, after they sit with that feedback, they might disagree with you. They might even double down on their original choices, but now they have a better grasp of their work, they have more insight into what they're trying to do or how it's landing with different audiences. And that — that is even more valuable than just telling them what you think it should be and expecting them to fall in line.
[00:33:32] Jordan Harbinger: Totally. You do not have to be a hundred percent objectively right to be helpful in these situations.
[00:33:38] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Which is a huge relief, right? For me anyway, it takes so much pressure off of the need to be, quote-unquote, right which, what does that even mean? I mean, especially when it comes to more subjective stuff like creative projects, and it helps me focus on something much more attainable and much more valuable, which is am I understanding this person? Am I helping them arrive at the best opinion for themselves?
[00:34:02] Jordan Harbinger: This is The Jordan Harbinger Show. This is a deep dive on honesty. We'll be right back.
[00:34:07] This episode is sponsored in part by Better Help online therapy. You're going through a rough time. I get it. I have as well. No matter how big or small of a situation, I've always sought the help of a therapist to help me navigate through them. Actually, that is a big fat lie. I used to not go to a therapist because I thought, "I didn't need this. I don't have mental illness. I'm not crazy. Who goes to therapists?" That's not true. If you're on the fence, take this as a sign to try it out, prioritize your mental health. I wish I'd started therapy a hell of a lot earlier than I did and put my stupid ego aside. All of Better Help's therapists are licensed professional therapists. They take privacy very seriously, so you can even be anonymous. You don't have to leave the house to talk to a Better Help therapist, which gas prices being what they are nowadays. That alone going to save you a ton of money. Connect by video or phone. You can even text your therapist anytime. Sometimes it's helpful to just vent in a judgment-free zone. Plus it's more affordable than in-person therapy. You get matched with a therapist in under 48 hours. Better Help wants to make sure you find a therapist that works for you so you can always switch therapists at no additional charge.
[00:35:09] Jen Harbinger: And our listeners get 10 percent off your first month at betterhelp.com/jordan. That's better-H-E-L-P.com/jordan.
[00:35:17] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is also sponsored by Progressive insurance. Let's face it, sometimes multitasking can be overwhelming. Like when your favorite podcast is playing, the person next to you was talking, the car fan is blasting, all while you're trying to find that perfect parking spot. But then again, sometimes multitasking is easy, like quoting with Progressive insurance, they do the hard work of comparing rates so you can find a great rate that works for you, even if it's not with them. Give their comparison tool a try, and you might find getting the rate and coverage you deserve is easy. All you need to do is visit Progressive's website to get a quote with all the coverages you want, like comprehensive and collision coverage or personal injury protection. Then you'll see Progressive's direct rates and their tool provide options from the other companies all lined up and ready to compare. So it's simple to choose the rate and coverages you like. Press play on comparing auto rates, quote at progressive.com to join the over 27 million drivers who trust Progressive.
[00:36:06] Jen Harbinger: Progressive Casualty Insurance Company and affiliates. Comparison rates not available in all states are situations. Prices vary based on how you buy.
[00:36:14] Jordan Harbinger: Thank you so much for listening to and supporting the show. I really love the fact that we get to have these kinds of conversations, do these kinds of deep dives. All the sponsors for all the shows are at jordanharbinger.com/deals. If you're going to make a purchase or you want to support the show, head on over there. You can also search for any sponsor using the search box on the website as well. Please consider supporting those who support this show.
[00:36:36] Now for the rest of our deep dive on honesty.
[00:36:39] Those ideas also have to be solid.
[00:36:43] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:36:43] Jordan Harbinger: Which means a big part of becoming more honest. Is also making sure you're sharing high-quality ideas in the first place. Because let's be real here—
[00:36:51] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:36:51] Jordan Harbinger: —being honest is not enough to elevate your relationships. You also have to have informed opinions, meaningful perspectives, valuable thoughts. We all know tons of uncensored people who are straight-up wrong — in fact, somehow it's usually the wrong ones who love to be uncensored and blast their crap everywhere.
[00:37:10] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yep.
[00:37:10] Jordan Harbinger: Being candid doesn't do much good and can actually do real harm if you're candid opinions. They just don't hold any water.
[00:37:17] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:37:17] Jordan Harbinger: And we all know somebody like this, right? We don't go to them deliberately for their opinion because it's always a bunch of nonsense. They just want to hear them — they're bloviating.
[00:37:25] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mmm.
[00:37:25] Jordan Harbinger: So as you increase your capacity for candor, Keep investing in the quality of your ideas. If you're going to become more vocal with your boss at work, make damn sure you have a solid understanding of your industry and appreciation of what it would actually take to make your recommendations succeed. If you're going to weigh in on your friends' relationships, make sure you understand their needs, the implications of your advice, why they're doing what they're doing. If you're going to give someone notes on their presentation or their novel or whatever, make sure you have a good understanding of their subject matter, their goals as a presenter or artist or whatever, and what they're trying to do with the story.
[00:38:02] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah. Right. In other words, know what the hell you're talking about to some degree before you let somebody have it.
[00:38:07] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Or if you don't qualify your opinion and balance it with some humility. Again, most opinions would benefit from saying, "Hey, there might be some things I don't fully understand yet, but here's my honest take at this moment. Just gut reaction, We can talk it out. That's a great way to begin any conversation.
[00:38:23] Gabriel Mizrahi: Such a good way. I think that's an excellent point, but there's another tricky element we have to talk about here, which is whom you're speaking to in this moment. Because look, being more honest is great, but you have to consider the nature of the relationship, different relationships, and also different circumstances call for different degrees of honesty. Your best friend for 20 years, for example, that person probably deserves a pretty high level of candor from you.
[00:38:48] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:38:48] Gabriel Mizrahi: If you deprive them of your honest opinion or if they deprive you of their honest opinion, that would be a betrayal of the understood terms of that friendship. But if you're just getting to know somebody for the first time, eh, you might not want to hit them with your most unfiltered opinions right off the bat. It would probably be inappropriate, for example, to tell somebody you just met at a party to like quit their job tomorrow or to stop talking to their mother because she sounds terrible in the 20 seconds of conversation you had about them or to, you know, leave their boyfriend or their girlfriend because they complained about being late. Whatever it is, you need a foundation for that kind of candor. And if you assume that foundation too quickly, it'll probably come across as presumptuous and a little pushy. So I'm not saying you shouldn't be authentic with new people but it takes time to build trust and also just gather the basic information necessary to support certain kinds of honesty.
[00:39:39] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Gabe, it's like a Reddit post where someone's like, "My mom brought tuna casserole to Christmas again after asked her not to go." "No contact right away." It's like—
[00:39:47] Gabriel Mizrahi: Toxic mother.
[00:39:48] Jordan Harbinger: Toxic. Yeah. Here's a forum for people who are raised by narcissists, like, mmm, okay. Look, I do agree with you. I do have one caveat to that, which is taking a chance and being weirdly honest with somebody new. That can sometimes deepen a relationship really quickly, and that can be powerful too. Like being unusually open on a first date that can really accelerate intimacy. Skip that weird phase in dating where you're low key, just trying to pretend you're someone else for the first—
[00:40:15] Gabriel Mizrahi: Sure.
[00:40:15] Jordan Harbinger: —I don't know, eight dates, whatever.
[00:40:17] Gabriel Mizrahi: Fair point. Yeah.
[00:40:17] Jordan Harbinger: Or being a little more direct than you, quote-unquote, "should be" in a job interview. That can really cut through the pretense of an interview. It can make a hiring manager see you as somebody who can speak their mind and run towards problems, and that might be why you land that job.
[00:40:32] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mmm.
[00:40:33] Jordan Harbinger: So I guess my point is sometimes you have to be honest in ways that seem sort of to contradict the nature of the relationship in order to make the most of that relationship. But it seems also like one of those where you need to know the rules really well before you start breaking them.
[00:40:47] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, no, that's a really fair point. Sometimes it's entirely appropriate to take that risk if it serves the relationship, but again, I think it's just confirming that you just have to take into account what the relationship is.
[00:40:57] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:40:58] Gabriel Mizrahi: But at the same time, you also have to take into account people's unique personalities. Some people, as we all know, have a naturally high tolerance for candor. They can engage in difficult conversations. They can metabolize difficult feedback. They can process their feelings around criticism pretty easily. Other people have a harder time with candor. They're more easily demoralized by criticism or they're so deprived of honesty in their life that they just don't really know how to respond when it shows up with these kinds of folks. You might have to move a little more slowly or frame your comments in a more digestible way, or just wait for the right moment to speak up. So you have to consider all of the variables at play in a relationship, the person's mood, their outlook, their capacity for healthy conflict, their willingness to change, their ability to make decisions, and maybe most importantly, what they need most at this moment.
[00:41:49] Jordan Harbinger: Which again goes back to the intention thing.
[00:41:51] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yes.
[00:41:51] Jordan Harbinger: What do they need? What am I trying to do here?
[00:41:53] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:41:54] Jordan Harbinger: But Gabe, I think we should pause here for a second because I can imagine people listening to this and going, "Wait a minute. This whole time you guys have been saying that you have to be radically honest. Now, you're saying you have to tailor your message to different people. Isn't that kind of self-censoring again? Isn't that holding back to protect people's feelings?"
[00:42:10] Gabriel Mizrahi: So great question. And my answer to that is not necessarily. Because like we talked about, being radically honest doesn't let you off the hook for being thoughtful, right? If you want your opinions to land the right way, you have to take into account how other people are going to receive them, because ultimately it doesn't do you any good to inflict your radically honest opinion on another person if they're not in a place to make good use of it. Or if they happen to have a personality or they're in a position or a circumstance that makes it hard for them to really hear you.
[00:42:38] But you're bringing up a good point, Jordan, which there is a very fine line here. Once you find yourself biting your tongue to protect somebody's feelings, or you're withholding deliberately and very often to spare yourself some discomfort, then you're in dicey territory again. That's when being artful and delicate has probably tipped over into dishonesty once again. And that's when you have to check in and really ask yourself, "Am I being tactful or am I being untruthful?"
[00:43:05] Jordan Harbinger: I like that — tactful versus untruthful. That's a good one to keep in mind. But I think what you're also getting at here is there are times where it's okay not to be honest.
[00:43:16] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:43:16] Jordan Harbinger: For all the benefits of radical honesty, there are definitely situations where honesty will not serve you well or where extreme candor just is not appropriate. Let's take work, for example. If you're part of a large organization with established politics and rules, letting your uncensored opinions fly in a meeting — probably not a good look.
[00:43:34] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mmm.
[00:43:34] Jordan Harbinger: Your boss might benefit from your no-holds-barred opinion. Sure, but that does not mean you should give them feedback in front of the whole team. Obviously, you have to pick the right moments to be candid. Frame your message carefully. Know that your opinion might not always win out.
[00:43:48] Another interesting scenario that comes to mind, helping a friend get through a tough breakup. You might have some very strong opinions about their relationship, maybe even their choice of partners in general, but it would be, it would probably be pretty hurtful to start dissecting their mistakes while they're grieving. They're sitting on the couch of the box of Kleenex, and you're like, "I told you so, Angela. I just want you to know, I told you from the jump that he was a jerk."
[00:44:11] Gabriel Mizrahi: Not going to play well.
[00:44:12] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. In that moment, what your friend needs most is compassion, solidarity, comfort. In a few weeks when they have a little more perspective, yeah, then your candid opinions will probably be a lot more helpful. They will already know that you told them so. In other words, sometimes you got to pull back on being radically honest in order to do something more important, which is in this case, yeah, be there for your friend.
[00:44:35] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, absolutely. It is such a good point. We don't have to be radically honest right now every single moment, every single time in order to be helpful. Sometimes what a situation calls for isn't honesty. Another scenario we have to talk about, because it comes up all the time on Feedback Friday especially, is spending time with family.
[00:44:53] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:44:53] Gabriel Mizrahi: That's where a lot of people get tripped up when it comes to honesty. Because when it comes to family, your impulse to be radically honest, that will often with something else, which is usually the need to keep the peace. Yeah, maybe you want to tell your uncle why his political views are insane, or you want to hash out your childhood trauma with your mom, or you want to put your weird cousin in his place when he starts, I don't know, pushing you to sign up for his creepy supplement MLM. I'm just naming examples we've heard on Feedback Friday—
[00:45:21] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:45:21] Gabriel Mizrahi: —over the last few months, but you also don't want to blow up Mother's Day by creating unnecessary drama, right? So when it comes to family, where's the line?
[00:45:30] Jordan Harbinger: Well, I know what Sam Harris would say, which is that there are some circumstances where radical honesty just isn't practical. Like to your point, doing on Mother's Day or Thanksgiving dinner with your family. Take a listen to what he says here.
[00:45:41] Sam Harris: I acknowledge that there are circumstances where this is just not practical. Basically, you know, you have one Thanksgiving dinner a year with these people, and your job is just not to ruin it. You know, you're not going to change anybody. You're not going to perform an exorcism that's going to make your aunt or uncle a fundamentally different person. But in those cases, I think you can just be tactful. You can change the topic, you can just simply not comment on things that you might have a lot to say about. And so being political in that sense and just being wise to avoid specific issues is not the same as lying. Even keeping a secret is not the same as lying.
[00:46:18] Jordan Harbinger: I'll say that again because I think that's a really great point. Being political and being wise are not the same thing as lying. What Sam's getting at is there's often something more important than speaking your truth all the time. It's usually more important to have a pleasant Thanksgiving dinner with your family once a year than it is to have a spontaneous family therapy session.
[00:46:40] Gabriel Mizrahi: Sure.
[00:46:40] Jordan Harbinger: With crazy Uncle Frank, especially. Being radically honest in moments like this, it can be aggressive, it's going to come across as rude, not to mention totally un product. Sometimes your need for authenticity, even when it's legitimate, it has to take a back seat.
[00:46:54] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, that's a really nice way of looking at it. But I would also add that if you embrace more candor in your life on a regular basis, you probably won't feel as much of a need to really let your family have it once a year or over the holidays. That's another benefit of being more honest. Just as a matter of policy, you deal with conflicts as they crop up. You speak up when something bothers you. Instead of letting the resentment build to the point where acknowledging it becomes super chaotic and disruptive because it's happening once a year.
[00:47:22] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that's also a really good point. Why let the dam build up until it bursts if you can just be a little bit more candid on an ongoing basis? But the other thing Sam talks about is you have to balance your need to be honest with a realistic grasp of other people. Because sure, you can lecture your uncle about why he voted for the wrong person or trash your cousin's dumb conspiracy theories on Facebook. But is that really going to help them change? Is being radically honest in that context, the best way to help them reconsider their views? Probably not.
[00:47:53] So if your brutally honest opinion isn't even going to do much good and there's a more important goal at stake, which is just having a nice time making sure everybody's happy, then yeah, the answer a lot of the time is to actually bite your tongue and let things roll off your back, censor yourself a little bit. Because sometimes what people need most from us is not radical honesty, sometimes what they need is empathy. They need comfort. They need a little recognition. Or just some freaking peace and quiet, a healthy space to be themselves, and get through this darn meal together. Although, if you think about it, those might be forms of honesty too. You're being honest about the fact that there's something more important than unleashing on everybody.
[00:48:32] So that's our take on honesty — why it matters so much, how to give it, when they give it, when not to give it. And let's just acknowledge, this is a really tough thing to. It doesn't come naturally to most human beings because it flies in the face of so many impulses and a lifetime of conditioning to not provoke people, to not hurt people, to not hurt ourselves. In fact, that tension between the impulse to be authentic and the impulse to protect, that's one of the hardest parts of relationships.
[00:49:00] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mmm.
[00:49:00] Jordan Harbinger: The key to resolving it is stepping into more and more honesty while balancing that approach with what a specific person or situation requires, but as Sam Harris captured so well in that interview, honesty is a core element of all healthy relationships. We owe it to other people to be candid, and other people owe it to us. When we're not candid with other people, we miss out on more authentic relationships and we tend to settle for less authentic ones. We miss out on the gift of empowering our friends, to be honest with us in return, but most importantly, we fail to cultivate integrity. The integrity of being able to say, "This is what I believe and I trust you to hear it," and the integrity of saying, "I need to hear the truth and I trust you to give it to me." That simple dynamic — that is so powerful.
[00:49:47] So given all that, it's kind of crazy, we'd settle for anything less than total honesty, but that doesn't make it easy. That's why we have to practice this. We have to work up to the levels of honesty that we feel are right to us. We have to experiment and see what works and discover what doesn't, and constantly recalibrate, and that's a lifelong process. So that's my invitation for you — to start embracing honesty a little bit more each day and in different circumstances. You don't need to become an uncensored maniac who doesn't care what other people. And you don't need to be brutally honest in every single encounter with every single person, every single day. You just need to step a little bit more into honesty in your interactions, in your relationships, and then see what it does for you. See what it does for the other people in your life.
[00:50:31] I can't tell you exactly what'll happen. You're going to have to find that out for yourself. Everybody is different, of course, but I can promise you that it'll put you in touch with ideas and feelings you've probably avoided or missed out on in the past. And it'll change your experience of your relationships and of yourself. And it will almost certainly lead to better outcomes in the long run, whatever those are. And that is huge.
[00:50:53] And if you want to hear more from Sam Harris and his views on honesty and lying, check out our interview. That was episode 698. We'll link to that in the show notes for you.
[00:51:02] All right, well that's it. And hey, I look forward to hearing only positive feedback about this episode because otherwise, I'm going to get really upset and fire off a really nasty email and response to you. But seriously though, I think this is a really important concept. Thank you everyone for listening.
[00:51:18] Links to everything that you need from this episode will be in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com. Transcripts are in the show notes, videos up on YouTube. Advertisers, deals, and discount codes are all at jordanharbinger.com/deals. Please consider supporting those who support this. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram, or you can just hit me on LinkedIn. You can find Gabe on Instagram at @GabrielMizrahi or on Twitter at @GabeMizrahi.
[00:51:45] I'm teaching you how to connect with amazing people and manage relationships using software, systems, and tiny habits. That's our Six-Minute Networking course. The course is free. jordanharbinger.com/course is where you can find it. I'm teaching you how to dig the well before you get thirsty. And hey, many of the guests on the show, they subscribe and contribute to the course. Come join us, you'll be in smart company where you belong.
[00:52:05] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Millie Ocampo, Ian Baird, Josh Ballard, and of course, Gabriel Mizrahi. Remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for this show is that you share it with friends when you find something useful or interesting. If you got somebody you want more honesty from, or you want to give more honesty to in your life, or you think they could benefit from hearing our little spiel on honesty, definitely share this episode with them. The greatest compliment you can give us is to share the show with those you care about. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
[00:52:42] We've got a preview trailer of our interview with Dr. James Fallon on how psychopath brains function differently from the rest of us and why psychopaths thrive in modern society. So stay tuned for that after the close of the show.
[00:52:55] James Fallon: I'm a neuroscientist since about 1989. I've studied the brain imaging scans of killers, serial killers, really bad murders, and I guess, I did one or two a year for many years. And then in 2005-2006, I got set a ton of them and I analyzed them. I said, "Oh my god, there's a pattern." So I saw this pattern that nobody had ever described, but at the same time, we were doing a clinical study on the genetics of Alzheimer's disease and we had all the Alzheimer's patients we needed. So we needed normals, just normal controls. And so I asked my family, that was kind of my first mistake. I said, "Look, guys, you want to all get in?" I have my brothers, my wife. I said, "We'll test you." And the idea being that on my side of him there was no Alzheimer's at all. So we did it and the two technicians walked into my office.
[00:53:43] On my right side, I piled all these murders' brain scans, and they handed me the pile of my family scans and they were covered up so I couldn't see the names. And so I went through, I went through one, two, three, four, five, six, seven. I was really relieved that they looked at the first pass as normal. And then I got to the last scan and I looked at it. I said, "Okay guys." I said, "This is very funny. You're kidding around with each other, right?" And I said, "Okay. You switched it. You took one of the worst psychopaths from this pile of murders and you switched it to my family. Ha-ha." And they go, "No, it's part of your family." I said, "You got to be kidding." I said, "This guy shouldn't be walking around in open society. He's probably a very dangerous person." So I had to tear back the covering on the name of it, and there was my name.
[00:54:31] Jordan Harbinger: For more with Dr. James Fallon, including how to spot a psychopath in the wild, check out episode 28 here on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.