The past year has been challenging for everyone everywhere. It’s been difficult to find out what is true and who is “blowing smoke.” As leaders and team members, we must do our best to listen, hear, and talk straight. Straight talk gains the trust of our bosses, team members, and customers.
However, straight talk can be tricky if your workplace culture doesn’t support honesty. Many of us fear sharing the truth because we are afraid of the consequences. And, these fears can be very real!
But when you rely on “white lies” or spin the facts, you will suffer the consequences. And, so will your company. The truth will emerge in the future. When it does, your boss, customers, and team members will feel hurt, angry, and betrayed because you didn’t talk straight!
Years ago, I learned this the hard way. There was a controversy going on within my department. When the VP of a different department asked me what I knew, I shrugged my shoulders and shook my head. I lied by saying, “I don’t know.”
Later, when the truth came out, he said to me, “In the future, say, ‘you cannot talk about it.’ Otherwise, I won’t trust you.”
When leaders and team members talk straight by telling the truth, results can be amazing. It develops trust and allows team members to get unstuck. They can now share real problems and ideas while developing new and better solutions.
4 Overlooked Ways to Speak in an Honest, Truthful Manner (aka Straight Talk)
Deliver or Receive Bad News with Respect. When leaders and teams only want to hear good news, competitors will steal their clients and top talent will leave!
How to do it:
- Don’t shoot the messenger—Make it easy for others to tell you the truth.
- Share bad news first by saying, “You’re not going to like what I’m going to say…” OR “I’m afraid you won’t like what I need to say.”
- Share your fact-based message. Fine-tune it so it is meaningful to your boss and/or team and/or customer. For example, some leaders want to hear the financial issues and are not interested in employee morale. Pay attention to your audience.
Overcome Your Fears. Your fears can be real. But it is important to address concerns even if your boss, customers, and team won’t like it! Failure to share negative information can trigger bigger issues about safety, employment, or financial impacts (to name a few).
How to do it:
- Stick to the facts and use metrics.
- Conduct audits and update policies, practices, and tools to ensure compliance.
- Use communication channels (e.g., intra-company, group training, etc.) to address “new normal” operating procedures.
Train for Straight Talk. Many teams and leaders don’t know how to talk straight. They talk around a point, wing it, or are evasive because they are afraid to tell the truth and/or don’t know the facts. This results in miscommunication, unclear directives, and poor ethical practices at every level in your organization. All of these are avoidable with straight talk.
How to do it:
- Design learning modules that include face-to-face interactive exercises.
- Have everyone participate in all training programs (include skills such as critical thinking, listening, meeting protocol, etc.).
- Learn the difference between facts v. feelings, opinions, and thoughts.
Take Responsibility. Telling and/or hearing the truth can be challenging. Many companies have sacred elephants, are afraid to rock the boat, and have team members that are well-liked but fail to get the job done. These are just a few of the reasons why only 10% of teams achieve intended results! Straight talk encourages you to tell the truth in a way that others can hear and listen to you.
How to do it:
- State the facts and review them with your business advisor, CPA, or attorney before talking with decision-makers.
- Document facts and the costs/benefits of solutions.
- Share this information with your boss or board in a way they can hear it, and continue the conversation until it’s resolved.
©Jeannette Seibly, 2017-2021 All Rights Reserved
Jeannette Seibly is The Leadership Results Coach. She has been an award-winning executive coach, management consultant, and keynote speaker for over 28 years. She is an expert in guiding leaders and their teams to get unstuck and achieve dynamic results. Contact Jeannette for a confidential conversation.
Do you fear telling team members the truth because it’ll create conflict? You’re not alone. Learn 3 keys on how to talk through team conflict now. “7 Reasons Why Teams Don’t Resolve Conflict”
A Note about Leaders: Talk Straight for Teams to Trust You from Jeannette. Talking straight can be difficult because people fear the truth. They don’t want to hear anything negative. They accept mediocrity and make excuses believing they did the best they could. But for leaders everywhere, it’s pay now or pay later because the truth will come out. Need help to feel comfortable talking straight and telling the truth? Contact me to start a confidential conversation. It could save your career and your business.