The truth shall set you free. That’s what they say, but is it true?
Some have found that saying to be very true. Though freedom wasn’t exactly what they were going for, it’s what they got – freedom to no longer work for their company.
What they learned is, the truth is not always seen as a ray of light showing everyone the way. It is often unwelcomed, harmful to hidden agendas, and is often resisted and suppressed.
Furthermore, truth isn’t what we used to think it was. It used to be something everyone could objectively agree upon. That’s how we could decide something was the truth. What even is true these days?
The truth can be found in data but as we have been seeing throughout this crisis, people can weave very different stories and conclusions based on data.
So, how can people come to an agreement about what is really true? Additionally, how can they come to an agreement about what to do with that truth?
Many well-meaning leaders, whether in leadership positions or not, see withholding or suppressing truth as counter-productive, wasteful, and potentially harmful to progress, conscious decision-making, and engagement. Some of them are the few willing to raise their hand, risk their status, and deliver the truth.
However, to believe that spouting out the truth in a public forum is the best route of delivery for the best possible outcome is naïve and in direct opposition to how humans really operate.
The truth is, sometimes no matter how you deliver the truth, you could be risking that it won’t be received well. You’re taking a risk that you may face consequences for speaking up, even if it is the right thing to do.
The Epic Careering Corporate Consciousness Ripple Blueprint, launching this month, teaches conscious leaders who want to level up their conscious contributions to the corporate landscape. In the program, we’ll focus on more than 8 protocols related to inspiring cooperation with and collaboration on conscious change initiatives. This particular article addresses one of the biggest mistakes people make that result in change getting shot down before it even begins – telling the flat-out “truth.” It also guides you in broaching the truth in a way that doesn’t put you on the immediate chopping block.
Blurting out the truth is a mistake I’ve made. It’s probably a mistake most people have made.
So, before you go and blurt out the truth at work, consider the following. Create a sound plan to divulge the truth that accounts for human nature and determine whether sharing will produce an outcome that benefits most everyone.
Ask These Questions:
My kids were taught three conditions to determine if what they want to say should be said:
Is it kind? Is it helpful? Is it true?
It’s interesting to see them grapple with that is true. Oftentimes, they state things as true when they’re really opinions (modeled after what they see others doing), even if they’re educated, experienced opinions.
So, be sure to ask yourself if what you’re thinking is an opinion or truth. If it’s truth, how can it be proven as such?
What does the data say? Could the data also indicate something else? What are the counter-arguments? Who might know more about historical applications or misapplications of the data?
What is your reputation at work? Are you known for being credible? Will people resist what you say automatically because you are known to ruffle feathers?
What is your intention in sharing this truth? What is the highest good that can come from sharing it? Alternatively, what is the worst possible consequence of sharing it? Who could be harmed by it? How can you mitigate any potential harm if the good outweighs the bad? How does this serve you?
How is this truth supposed to guide decisions, strategy, and actions?
Devise a Plan:
Next, it’s time to devise a plan. If this truth does, in fact, reveal some problems within your organization, expect at least some resistance. As a golden rule, if you are going to point out a problem, you need to also present a solution. You may not be a solutioner by nature or by trade, but you need to at least come up with some options. Starting from square one with no potential path forward is not an option for any business. Pair up with a solutioner to create a Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C, as well as projections on what will happen if this truth is ignored.
Make a Pitch (or solicit someone even more credible or influential to):
It may sound a bit counter-intuitive and certainly in direct conflict with conventional corporate posturing, but when you do take the opportunity to present the truth, you must also admit your own margin of error.
Data can reveal trends, but it doesn’t always reveal when trends will be bucked by other forces. Take, for example, the upset when the team that is favored to win loses. Sports statisticians use increasingly accurate automated algorithms to make predictions and assign over/under wagers so that the person who makes the bet with the highest risk of being wrong earns the most if there’s an upset.
No one will believe that you are presenting absolute truth, or that you are infallible. When you are transparent that it may not be the BEST path forward but you are committed to demonstrating all of your plan’s strengths and weaknesses, you’re allowing an educated decision to be made by the people with the authority to do so.
This is really counter-intuitive, but start with the weaknesses! This lowers resistance, proves you are attempting to be unbiased. Believe it or not, you’ll find that, once these concerns are validated by you, some will even jump in just to point out why the weaknesses really don’t compromise the soundness of the proposed plans once you get into the strengths.
Be mindful of your state of mind when you are you presenting, especially when you are addressing questions. Be honest when you don’t have an answer, when more data is needed, or when experts in the room have yet to weigh in on certain aspects in their wheelhouse. Invite them to contribute. Ideally, you will have checked your plan with an expert in that area already.
Businesses make decisions in vacuums all the time. The ivory tower has earned a poor reputation for a reason; as professionals grow ever higher from the front lines up the corporate ladder, they assume that they can see it all much better from up there. Unfortunately, they forget what the day-to-day is like for the front lines (or they never really learned.)
Oversights can be very costly to companies. When companies start to bleed money in ways projections did not account for, without self-awareness, leaders will succumb to the human inclination to protect the ego from looking bad and the instinct to protect one’s livelihood. Many times, CYA culture is reinforced and scapegoats are assigned. Then it is modeled and passed onward.
Unfortunately, the people who have the most to lose, those who have the highest to fall, far too often make those below them take the fall instead.
Is that a fact?
All I have to prove this is anecdotal evidence, honestly – over 15 years’ worth! There are also numerous headlines and class action suits, but very few in comparison to personal accounts. Think about how many executives enjoy bonuses while mass layoffs ensue.
I absolutely admire leaders who have the guts to say it like it is. Progress would be much faster if we didn’t have to work around ego.
The fact is, however, we are human. People can get more resilient, and companies can do things to enhance the resiliency of its workforce and its leaders, but no one is getting there overnight.
Put some influence victories under your belt, and it gets much easier to inspire more change.
Everyone has to start somewhere, and everyone can level up from where they are right now.
Are you a truth-teller who wants more victories? Is the truth a legacy you feel is important to leave behind?
Perhaps The Epic Careering Corporate Consciousness Ripple Blueprint is the personal and professional development program that makes the most sense for you right now.
Let’s find out. Book a call today.
Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days, is founder of Epic Careering, a 13-year-old leadership and career development firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play.
While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales.
Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot.
She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where some of her students won the 2018 national competition, were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award.