Radical Transparency: How to Get People to Be Brutally Honest With You

By Sean Ogle •  Updated: 09/28/18 •  4 min read

A few things you should know about me:

I hate letting people down. I’m a people pleaser. I take criticism very personally.

Even after close to a decade online, I can get 100 gushing emails about how great Location Rebel is, but one negative one, throws me off and I analyze it and take it much more personally than I should.

But you know what, I want more of that. Radical Transparency

Not from the trolls, but the people who actually have something constructive to say.

All my life I’ve generally been a pretty nice guy. I rarely state bold opinions, I try to be as friendly as I can with everyone, and I do my best to hole my tongue rather than be argumentative.

Because of that, usually people are nice in return.

And sometimes? They’re too nice.

One of the hardest things to do as a business owner (or just a human), is to get brutally honest, constructive feedback.

The kind of stuff that is excruciatingly hard to hear, yet at the same time is the stuff you need to hear.

I’ve found for me over the years, it’s tough to get that honest feedback – and it’s also what makes it that much more difficult to take when I do get it.

Whether it’s blog readers, Academy or Eighty Club members, clients or anyone else – usually if I ask for honest feedback, I get mostly crickets.

I believe this is because that in my interactions with all of those people I’m usually very upbeat, friendly, and supportive.

So if those people aren’t happy with something, it’s much easier for them to just not say anything than to say something negative to the person that’s always been nothing but positive towards them.

After all, most of us were always taught “if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

This month I’ve been working my way through the book Principles by Ray Dalio.

Ray is widely regarded as one of the best investment minds of all time, and aside from understanding financial markets better than anyone, he also has a number of interesting ways he runs his business, Bridgewater Capital.

The most striking of which, is his insistence on radical transparency and candor from everyone in his company.

If you were doing something wrong, he’d tell you. And then he would expect you to do the same, not just for him, but for all of your coworkers as well.

Cultivating Radical Transparency in Your Life

Imagine being surrounded by people who were brutally honest all the time.

How painful would that be?

Over time, it can be equally as painful and probably more detrimental to your life and business, if you don’t get any of that honesty from people.

There are only a handful of people in my life that I’ve tried adopting this mindset with.

And to be honest?

It was never that well received.

It came across as that I thought I was better than them, or there were truths that were so uncomfortable, that it was easier for them to bury their head in the sand.

As I get older, and as my businesses evolve, I’ve found myself yearning for that type of honesty.

Every time I get it, it hurts. I obsess over it. I take it personally.

But then?

Usually, I make changes that make things better.

know there are all kinds of things I can improve upon, but often it can be difficult to see them for myself since I’m so engrained in the day to day of what I do.

So despite the pain, I’m always appreciative when I get honesty about my business or my actions so that I can assess it, and make changes (or not) because of it.

Do you practice this kind of radical transparency with anyone in your life? Are people receptive?

How do you change a culture in both your own life, and those around you of one that maximizes for feeling good and comfort, for one that promotes discomfort, openness, and hopefully, positive change?

I’d love to know what you think.

Want help building a business you can run from anywhere in the world? That’s what we do.

Sean Ogle

Sean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
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Comments on "Radical Transparency: How to Get People to Be Brutally Honest With You"

  1. Haha Sean. I laugh because I have been in the same boat. A few friends genuinely share whatever is on their mind so these folks give me feedback I can assess, and decide whether to honor or not. I dig it. Gives me clarity. Like if someone says something critical about my blog I can see it as just their projection and opinion, and nothing more. Meaning since it is no big deal I am free to assess it and see if I should follow the advice or release it. Rocking topic bro.

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