Friday, November 27, 2015

On the Merits and Risks of Being a Frank

And by Frank I am not referring to a member of a Germanic tribe, or a person named Frank”, though I can imagine that bearing that moniker has its own merits and risks; I am referring of course to an individual who readily speaks their mind, is brutally honest, is forthright in the extreme, doesn’t beat around the bush, calls a spade a spade, chooses polemic over other forms of discourse, and so on and so forth. Let us call this kind a Frank.

And in the name of said frankness, I consider myself an instance of the aforementioned kind. As to why I am this way, I cannot rightly say; perhaps it is genetic, perhaps I learned it from my dearly departed father, perhaps I am on the spectrum, or perhaps I have a strong desire to reveal the underlying truth in all things, primarily to satisfy my own curiosity about life, the universe, and everything.

My life as a Frank has taught me something important that might help other Franks; regardless of the strength of one’s belief, the depth of one’s righteousness, the eloquence and sophistication of one’s argument, and the indomitable passion with which one delivers that argument; if one does not effectively engage the audience, either in hearing and responding to the subtleties of their points and counter-points, or in at least getting them to hear the subtleties of one’s own, then all of that passion, energy, and commitment are for naught.   

The mechanism one uses to elucidate the truth is just as important as the truth itself. If one is solely concerned with one’s own righteousness then perhaps it doesn’t matter, but if one is actually concerned with revealing or discovering the truth then it is not enough that one can identify the weaknesses or inaccuracies in an argument; one has to strive to successfully communicate one’s argument or position in such a way that it has the highest likelihood of being given any consideration by the listener (who may initially strongly hold an opinion quite opposite to one’s own).

In general, our most self-destructive behaviors, are occluded from us. If one doggedly seeks to elucidate the truth of a thing, but finds oneself driving one’s point no matter what the response from the listener or audience; or worse yet, one doesn’t particularly care what the listener’s response is, then one is probably not in it for any noble reason. One’s frankness in this case is probably motivated by some deep-seated sense of inadequacy, a need for attention, or worse.

Franks need to always keep in mind that most people will not initially take the passion, energy and commitment that a Frank demonstrates for interactively discovering the truth of a thing, as noble or good; they will just think that the Frank is an arrogant asshole. And despite the fact that the Frank’s intentions may indeed be noble, those people may still be correct in their assessment. And even those relatively self-aware Franks have bad days, when their forthrightness smothers their empathy and compassion, and becomes belligerence or just plain cruelty.

Wisdom, truth and fact need to find fertile ground in the minds of the listener, else they are no better than fallacies, lies, and superstitions. You as a Frank are entirely responsible for ensuring that it is not the demeanor of the messenger that causes the audience to raise stone walls around that ground.

The truth will set you free… and in most cases also scare the bejesus out of you.


  1. f Frank is so concerned about effectively communicating the truth but the audience is not ready to quickly accept the truth in it's truest form, then I think it is better for Frank to reveal the truth gradually in increasing levels of "true"ness. Sometimes, this may demand Frank to not be Frank at all. Do you think it is the responsibility of Frank to accomodate this dissonance with one's Frankness?

    1. Some audiences will be closed to a Frank no matter how diplomatically one frames one's argument. As soon as one becomes aware that this is the case, then one should simply walk away; there is no merit in shouting at stone. And as far as revealing the truth "gradually" I suspect that it is a slippery slope; at some point one is using tactics that are not optimizing for truthiness - one is optimizing for receptivity - in which case one is clearly not a Frank.

  2. Once again.... bloody brilliant !!!