How to Limit Consequence in Communicating Painful Truth

In the heat of the moment, exclaiming the blatant truth is a romantic idea. We wonder why the raw, harsh truth gets hidden from everyday conversation and sometimes feel like changing that fact.

Before you venture on the hero’s journey to giving birth to truth in your world, be aware of exactly why most people shy away from doing just that. Harsh truth brings forth harsh consequences, and audiences react in polarizing ways to it. If the truth you say is meaningful to your audience, you will be loved for it. However, if the truth you voice is information which your audience does not care to hear, you will be condemned harshly for it.

In order to minimize the effects that saying the truth has on others’ feelings toward you, be strategic in your delivery of it. For one, truth is best delivered when people ask for it. If the truth you’re saying was not solicited by those who listen, then prepare for their unanticipated reaction to it. Let’s analyze two useful things to remember in delivering harsh truth to your listeners while minimizing the reaction they have to it.

Their Act of Asking for, and Discovering, Truth

Enticing others to ask for the unadulterated truth involves mastering the art of teasing them with information. When attempting to present a particular case for why something is untrue, package the evidence for its falsehood into digestible, but addictive bites of truth. Akin to laying a track of food down for the neighborhood cat you seek to befriend, lay down the evidence which you used to come toward an understanding of truth for the person in question to follow. Be random with your serving sizes of evidence. Allow your audience to own the discoveries of this evidence, rather than considering you to be the source of all the evidence. When your audience becomes accustomed to the evidence against something they believe, they will begin actively searching for what truth may be in that particular instance.

If you happen to possess the truth in the realm within which they seek it, then it’s likelier you’ll be listened to after enticing them to ask for truth rather than presenting it outright. Making people seek the truth involves first deconstructing their prior-held beliefs in order for them to search for, perhaps harsher, unfound truths. Be sensitive in your act of providing evidence which leads to the discovery life’s harsher truth. Do not consider this an exercise in destroying others’ values and beliefs. The things they discover should be truthful, not a product of your desire to deceive them. It is a two-step process, which involves you presenting evidence regarding why what they currently believe is untrue, and only then delivering your own truth to be considered. Once they meet you at the end of the cognitive journey they ventured on their own, they will be more likely to believe what they find you presenting at the end of it as true.

The main takeaway from this is the development of your ability to deconstruct truths into logically ordered, and digestive bites of evidence for others to taste themselves.


Let’s say for whatever cruel reason, you’re tasked with communicating the notion that Santa Claus is not real to a child who still believes in his physical existence.

This article proposes to not simply express painful truths like that and hope the child believes it without reacting negatively.

This article proposes you to set the stage for that child’s own discovery that Santa is not real. Again, it would be rather cruel to do this, this is just an example. You’d set out cookies and find them uneaten on Christmas morning. You’d ask questions which allow the child to interpret the lack of evidence for Santa’s existence as true. If you’re really desperate, you’d maybe set up a camera under the tree and together discover that it wasn’t really Santa who placed the presents under a tree, but daddy in his pajamas at 3 AM.

The example is not an impressive one, but the concept relies on asking questions to come to an agreement of what evidence for truth would look like, and then allowing them to interpret that evidence themselves. Its goals are to make people ask for truth and come to it by discovering it themselves. It points to stay away from labeling anything as true or false, but simply presenting evidence for what may be true or false and allowing the listener to make their decision.

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Disclaimer of Opinion: This article is presented only as opinion. It does not make any scientific, factual, or legal claims in any way.