Big Idea: Speaking our Truth

Perhaps it’s the incessant media stories about Tiger Woods, healthcare, and the economy, but I’m feeling that the biggest idea for all our organizations—the one that might actually enable the other possibilities being discussed—relates to how we talk and share with each other.

What if we each begin speaking our truth more regularly, invites others to do the same, and create a climate where doing so is normal and expected?

How many accumulated hours each day are wasted because we think it is risky to tell the truth? How much insight is never shared because people don’t believe they can express themselves freely? How much passion and engagement is shackled because individuals protect themselves with self-censorship? How many bad choices are made daily because of faux conversations about incomplete information, choices that can result in resources wasted, opportunities lost, jobs sacrificed, and credibility diminished?

But what about all those P words? Posturing Politeness. Personalities. Politics. They aren’t going away.

  • So why not stand up straight instead of stooping hunched over by the hunch we need to spin what we say?
  • Isn’t it actually impolite to not express what you truly think or believe because you sense people won’t respond well?
  • Why get all worked up by how someone says something instead of respecting each person’s right to see things differently? As the Quaker say everyone holds a piece of the truth.
  • Politics is defined as the art of science of influencing policy. Shouldn’t our influence be tied to our level of honesty?

Expressing our truth doesn’t have to be (nor should it be) mean, rude, belligerent, marginalizing, caustic, self-aggrandizing, offensive, hateful, accusatory, or any other negative possibility. No need to raise your voice, increase your volume, or wave your arms frantically to be heard. Just share your perspective respectfully and respect the right of others to do the same. Sharing what you think is right shouldn't require making others feel so wrong.

Positional leaders can certainly model the way to make speaking our truth more palatable, but the ultimate invitation is the very act of someone, anyone, doing so. Why not let it be you?


Lindy Dreyer said...

Thank you for this gem, expressed so clearly and without pretense. I'm going to share this with some folks I think would really appreciate the sentiment.

Jamie DeSimone said...

Great post! I would however say that we need to retrain ourselves to be better listeners first.

The biggest problem I run across with speaking the truth (and I do!) in both professional or personal circumstances is the bias of the listener. People get defensive and it makes them uncomfortable. Because of that, we sensor ourselves or over think our statements.

I don't know how you go about creating a culture that embraces the truth - because, sometimes the truth sucks. Sometimes the truth means that programs will be halted, or the proverbial elephants will be exposed. (And I am using the assumption that the truths are told tactfully and in polite manner.)

I think the road to this type of culture would be long and bumpy. That said, if you fill a room full of Scorpios, I think you could pull it off! LOL