Can I be honest with you for a moment?
Don’t you just love it when somebody says that to you? It may just be my perception but salespeople seem to say that kind of often. It’s as if they are asking for permission to tell you the truth, if only for a moment, and then they will go back to being lying scoundrels.
Another one of my favorites is “is it okay to be honest with you?” That what would seem to indicate that lying is normal and being truthful is unexpected.
I don’t know about you but I expect the truth from people, in any situation, 100% of the time. Even when I don’t like it. Even when it hurts.
I expect it, but I don’t give it.
Neither do you, at least not all the time. The average person lies 7 times a day. I’d guess little stuff mostly, you know the kind of little white lies we tell to “protect” someone we care about.
The problem is lying can become habit forming. The “little” white lies get a little bigger as time goes by. Pretty soon we can lose perspective on what exactly the truth is and then, well then, we have big trouble.
Many people are quoted as having been the first to say “honesty is the best policy.” I suppose it was first said so long ago that no one is certain who said it first but I’d say that through the years someone has even lied about that.
I don’t necessarily know if the truth will set you free but I do know that the truth will always find a way to be set free. With that in mind it seems the best policy would be to always tell the truth, even when it seems as if it would be useful to tell a lie.
Don’t ask for permission to be honest, not for a moment, not for a lifetime. Just be honest.
Now, a special note for you “leaders” out there, especially those of you at the top of your organization. If your people are afraid to be honest with you then YOU have a big problem. If they feel that they must always tell you what you want to hear then you have a leadership issue in your organization and the issue is likely with you.
YOU must make certain your people feel safe when telling you the truth. You must provide a culture where honesty is rewarded and recognized.
The moment one of your people feel criticized, punished or worse, humiliated for telling you the truth YOU are toast as an effective leader. You’ll never get the insights you need to truly lead.
Honesty begins with ourselves. Do you allow your people to be honest with you? Really?
Remember, if you can’t be honest with yourself, you can’t be honest with anyone.