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Is Honesty The Best Policy?

Written by Nicole Ponseca

It feels so good to vent, let's do it all the time, says Brad Blanton. Is he crazy?

We know that honesty is a good policy, the best policy, in fact. But we also know that little white lies are the grease that keep us from chafing each other raw. Do you mind if I come in? Not at all. How's the chicken? Delicious.

We call this good manners. Brad Blanton calls it fraudulence. Get ready,if you don't like reading a slew of four letter words, stop reading.

To the author and psychotherapist, anything less than total honesty is deceitful, disrespectful and downright dangerous to your own well being. He could be on to something, judging from the success of his book Radical Honesty, his profile in Fast Company, appearance on Montel and as a panelist on Politically Incorrect.

Then again, we haven't heard much from those on the receiving end of radical honesty. Blanton's sawed-off style can be, to use his vernacular, "goddamned abrasive." Is this really what we want from our partner, our boss, the guy who bags our groceries? In this interview Blanton sheds light, but little comfort.

Is honesty good if it hurts someone's feelings?

Brad Blanton: I recommend that you hurt people's feelings, but that you stay with them until they get over it. You can get over having your feelings hurt in 15 minutes, I mean you can get over being offended in 15 minutes.

Stay with people. Let them get pissed off, but stay with them until they get over it. Don't do a drive-by "fuck you" and take off. Go out, get a beer and then you're friends.

The point is if you dance on eggshells your whole life afraid of offending anyone, you're living an entirely phony life. Because we're petty, we're all petty. We get attached to ideas of what people should do and then they don't do it and we get mad at them. Then we lie about being mad at them, we get more attached to the ideas out of lying.

Then we lie about the anger about them not doing what we want and not expressing ourselves. And it goes on and on and on.

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You say that lying is the source of all stress. That's a bit extreme, isn't it?

Brad Blanton: That's why it's called "radical honesty." I believe that the primary source of human stress, major causes of most depression, the major cause of most anxiety, is being trapped in the jail of your own mind.

There is no such thing as a stressful job, there is a job and then you stress yourself about it. Stress comes from being attached to standard ideas, pictures, images of the way things ought to be rather than perceiving what is actually so. And what keeps you trapped in the jail of your own mind is lying.

How does lying harm a relationship?

Brad Blanton:What people go for is some kind of semblance of a relationship that is nourishing and warm and that they get benefit from. And they're play acting, generally. We have a 53 percent divorce rate. That's not the tragedy.

The tragedy is of the remaining 47 percent, at least half of those relationships suck. They're people who are too scared to be alone. They're staying together with the devil they know rather than the devil they don't know. They're hating each other's guts and living in stony silence.

So you get it down to maybe 12.5 percent of the people have authentic, intimate relationships. Which are fundamentally based on honesty. You have to tell the truth about what you think.

Of radical honesty, you said, "We're a cult and we're going to take over the world."

Brad Blanton: I was being facetious about it, but I think it's funny the way people are worried about cults. What is a cult? A cult is a culture. I am definitely trying to create a new culture, called a culture of honesty. And it's based on noticing and it's based on compassion. It's based on seeing that when I look at your eyes and you look at mine, it's pretty much like looking in a mirror.

Anybody who makes a big deal out of external differences and appearances is just as full of shit as a Christmas turkey. So fuck 'em if they can't take a joke. That's my attitude. My cult is based on noticing. So nobody is going to go follow me blindly. If someone comes trying to blindly follow me, I'd tell them to kiss my ass. I don't want somebody worshipping me.

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