I remember experiencing the stab of people being "honest", with brutality, and this quote long resonated with me. When providing someone with feedback, there is NEVER a need to be brutal about it. You can be honest in critiquing another or their work, but there is absolutely never a need to be brutal.
Leadership does not require brutality to be successful. As I have worked through the years in education, I have always kept this in mind. What is the real purpose of providing someone with feedback? To assist them in making improvements in areas that they might not be able to see themselves. We are their second set of eyes, or hands, or taste buds. We provide them feedback so they know better where improvements, adjustments, or the tiniest of tweaks can be made to be more successful. We as instructors, friends, peers, or family, must not be there to destroy or belittle anyone nor their efforts towards taking chances, growth, and success.
Because, really, how is brutality helpful? Simply, it isn't. It provides the giver of the feedback with a perverse sense of power by bringing someone else down. It gives the provider of this negativity an undeserving feeling of authenticity. It strengthens the bully's own feelings of superiority, but only through the diminishment of another's.
To quote the late U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower,
“You don’t lead by hitting people over the head—that’s assault, not leadership.”
Photo of HonestyTrustRespect by Zaneology on Flickr