We are afraid to tell each other the truth.
It’s a freaking cultural norm. And it’s ruining our relationships and our organizations.
A client of mine is under intense and public fire, accused of offenses he did not commit. There are those in his organization who have the capacity to tell the truth to the accuser about the havoc that individual is wreaking on the organization. And they don’t do so.
Why? We are afraid, in our culture, to tell each other the truth.
I have seen my client’s situation mirrored in so many organizations — nonprofits, for-profits, government agencies, educational institutions — and at so many levels of leadership. It’s epidemic. Somebody’s screwing up, and nobody has the cojones to confront the perp and say, “You’re screwing up, and it must stop.”
(Clearly that’s a problematic strategy when the individual is your boss … or even your peer. But if s/he’s your direct report, there’s no excuse. In the interest of being “nice,” of avoiding awkwardness, how long will you allow hell to reign in the team?)
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m a nice guy. Nobody would accuse me of being a hard-ass. In this blog space, I focus on building harmonious relationships, cultivating compassion, and taking the perspective of the other. And:
Of course, there are constructive and destructive ways to deliver challenging news. I’ll take that up in my next blog post (two weeks from today). And there are strategies to deliver challenging news to people who can hurt you. (That’ll be four weeks from today.) Meanwhile …
YOUR PATH FORWARD: Take three minutes to reflect on these questions:
- What critical truths are you not telling to a member of your team or organization?
- Why is it important for that individual to hear that truth? What will happen if they never do?
- What’s keeping you silent?
- What would you need to know or do in order to speak your truth?
- What steps could you take — today — toward speaking that truth?