Mr. Dalio's basic philosophy is what he calls "hyper-realism," a notion that brutal honesty, no matter how uncomfortable, yields the best results. Principle No. 8: "There is nothing to fear from truth....Being truthful is essential to being an independent thinker and obtaining greater understanding of what is right."You may speak your mind, but you can’t hide in the shadows.
At Bridgewater [Associates], being truthful also requires being a bit ruthless. Employees aren't allowed to talk critically about someone unless the person is present. Principal No. 11: "Never say anything about a person you wouldn't say to him directly. If you do, you are a slimy weasel." If an employee breaks the rule three times, they can be fired.Living by this philosophy sounds liberating. Our politically correct way of speaking can confuse others; masking what we really think leads to misunderstandings and delayed, if not wrong, group decisions.
It's one thing to apply them to the workplace, but I know that I can’t live by Mr. Dalio’s rules in my personal life. I regularly deal with mentally challenged (see, there I go with euphemisms) people, and only very rarely would I say to them that they are unlikely to live a normal life or that some things they deeply desire they can never have. Speaking with brutal honesty to the clinically depressed can have dire consequences.
Ray Dalio's billions permit him to have luxuries afforded to few mortals. One such is the privilege of speaking his mind without consequence or of having to associate with those for whom brutal honesty is not the best policy.