Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors
Hidden Brain Podcast / – The Truth About Honesty

Hidden Brain Podcast – The Truth About Honesty

Share this summary


In the “Hidden Brain Podcast” episode titled “The Truth About Honesty,” psychologist Teah Cohen explores our complicated relationship with honesty and how it affects our interactions with others. Cohen’s personal experiences and research insights shed light on the challenges and benefits of being honest in our daily lives.

Main Takeaways

Importance of Honest Communication

  • We often notice flaws and oddities in the people around us but don’t say anything.
  • We have a complicated relationship with honesty – we’re taught to always tell the truth but also to soften it to avoid hurting feelings.
  • Junior employees are often advised to stay silent in meetings with senior colleagues to protect themselves from saying the wrong thing.
  • Taya Cohen’s direct communication style was seen as rude and hurtful by some colleagues.
  • Being honest at work can lead to positive outcomes, such as being promoted and appreciated by colleagues.

The Dilemma of Honesty vs. Niceness

  • People avoid difficult conversations because they feel torn between being kind and giving honest feedback.
  • Communication tactics like paltering can omit important information.
  • Honesty is important when it can be helpful, but it’s not always necessary to share everything.
  • Popular culture often reinforces the idea that telling the truth can have negative consequences.
  • Expressing benevolent intentions is crucial in feedback conversations.

The Benefits of Honest Feedback

  • A controlled study had pairs of adults come into the lab to have honest feedback conversations.
  • Despite expectations, people felt closer to their partner after the conversation.
  • Most feedback recipients want critical feedback, even if it makes them unhappy.
  • The benefits of honest feedback often show up in the long run, while the short-term effects can be unpleasant.
  • Remind yourself of the long-term benefits of giving feedback, even if the short-term consequences may be difficult.

Cultural Differences in Communication

  • Different cultures have different norms for communication, which can lead to misunderstandings.
  • Face-to-face or phone conversations are better for conveying kindness, support, and tact in feedback.
  • Different cultures have different levels of directness when expressing honest feedback.


Challenges and Benefits of Honesty in Communication

In this episode of the “Hidden Brain Podcast,” psychologist Teah Cohen delves into the complexities of honesty in our interactions with others. She shares personal experiences and research insights to highlight the challenges and benefits of being honest in various contexts.

Cohen emphasizes the importance of honest communication, even when it may feel uncomfortable. She explores how our fear of hurting others or facing negative consequences often leads to avoiding difficult conversations. However, she also acknowledges that being overly positive or withholding important information can hinder genuine connection and growth.

The episode delves into the dilemma of honesty versus niceness, where individuals struggle to strike a balance between being kind and providing honest feedback. Cohen discusses communication tactics like paltering, which can mislead others by strategically omitting certain information. She also emphasizes the significance of expressing benevolent intentions in feedback conversations, as it helps create a supportive and receptive environment.

Furthermore, the podcast explores the benefits of honest feedback, both in personal and professional relationships. Despite initial expectations of negative reactions, research shows that honest conversations often lead to increased closeness and personal growth. Cohen highlights the long-term benefits of providing feedback, even if the short-term consequences may be challenging.

The episode also delves into the influence of cultural differences on communication. Cohen discusses how different cultures have varying levels of directness, which can lead to misunderstandings when expressing honest feedback. She emphasizes the importance of considering cultural norms and choosing appropriate communication channels, such as face-to-face or phone conversations, to convey kindness and support effectively.


Being honest in our interactions with others can be challenging but ultimately rewarding. The “Hidden Brain Podcast” episode “The Truth About Honesty” provides valuable insights into navigating the complexities of honesty, emphasizing the importance of genuine communication, benevolent intentions, and cultural awareness. By prioritizing honesty while incorporating kindness and support, we can foster stronger relationships and personal growth.

You might also like