Crocker’s Rules and how to make Radical Honesty work

As I researched Radical Honesty for my last post, I discovered another lifestyle philosophy that fits in well. It’s called Crocker’s Rules, and it’s basically a mirror of Radical Honesty. Whereas Radical Honesty is all about sharing exactly what you’re thinking, especially about other people, Crocker’s Rules is all about allowing others to share exactly what they’re thinking about you.

Crocker’s Rules definitely jives better with my personal philosophy. I like the idea of letting everyone else say exactly what they think of me, even if it’s negative (or downright mean). If everyone committed to honestly sharing what they think of me, I’m sure I’d get some surprises. But for now, I think I could handle it. And really, I think I’d prefer it instead of all the guess work.

But this brings up a dilemma. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I like that. Even though I don’t always live it, I try to. But what about this case with Crocker’s Rules?

  • On one hand, I think it’d be great if everyone told me exactly what they think about me. No restraint.
  • On the other hand, I don’t think it’d be great if I told everyone what I think of them.

Doesn’t that mean I’m not really doing unto others as I’d like them to do for me?

Here’s the difference, I think. In the first case, where I’m wanting everyone to be straight with me, I’m making that choice. No one’s forcing it on me. People aren’t automatically coming up to me and saying nasty things (not too often anyway). If they did, I’d probably get pretty aggravated, to put it lightly. But if I first gave them permission, if I first made it clear that I wanted them to be up front with me, then I’d welcome all their thoughts. At least I think I would.

So perhaps the key with Radical Honesty and Crocker’s Rules is to start out by asking permission.

This implies, though, that we’ll have to trust the responses we get. Sometimes people say, “Sure, share all you want,” but they don’t really mean it. In asking permission then, we’d have to take their response seriously. Perhaps more importantly, they would have to give their response seriously.

But once that permission is granted, Radical Honesty might work. Because then it would look like Crocker’s Rules to everyone else instead of some jerk spilling his guts to purposely offend everyone.