Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 1, Issue 44;   October 31, 2001: When You're Scared to Tell the Truth

When You're Scared to Tell the Truth

by

In the project context, we need to know that whatever we're hearing from colleagues is the truth as they see it. Yet, sometimes we shade the truth, or omit important details. Here's a list of some of the advantages of telling the truth.

At work, especially in the project context, we rely on each other's Word. When someone tells you something, you need to know that you're hearing what the speaker believes to be true. We can each help to create a more Truth-Full working environment by telling the Truth ourselves, especially when the prospect of telling the whole truth seems scary.

If you tell the truth
it's harder to gossip.
(This is a good thing.)
Mark Twain wrote, "If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything." This is one of many advantages of telling the truth. Here's a list of the advantages of telling the truth over spinning, shading, stretching, misleading, or even lying.

Mark Twain in 1907

Mark Twain in 1907. Photo by A.F. Bradley, courtesy U.S. Library of Congress.

Telling the truth requires less creativity because you don't have to make anything up.

Telling the truth reduces medical expenses by keeping your blood pressure in the normal range.

If you tell the truth you don't have to worry whether what you're saying now is consistent enough — or too consistent — with what you've said in the past.

If you tell the truth it's less likely (though not impossible) that anyone will accuse you of not telling the truth.

If you tell the truth you have to do much less record-keeping — it's easier to remember what you told to whom and when.

You hardly ever feel guilty about telling the truth.

If you tell the truth you don't have to worry as much about whether what you're saying is working.

If you tell the truth you don't have to worry about what to say when you get caught.

If you tell the truth you don't have to learn any fancy ambiguous words to mislead people.

The plain truth is usually shorter than anything else.

If you tell the truth you get practice telling the truth, which can pay off when telling the truth is really hard.

If you tell the truth it's more likely (though not certain) that others will tell you the truth.

If you tell the truth your nose won't grow much beyond its current length.

If you tell the truth it's harder to gossip. (This is a good thing.)

If you tell the truth you don't have to worry about keeping a straight face.

If you tell the truth you have less need to explain to yourself — or your kids — why it's sometimes OK not to tell the truth.

If you tell the truth, people have a chance to find out about problems while there's still time to do something about them.

If you tell the truth it's easier to sleep at night.

If you're known as a straight shooter, fewer people will ask you to shoot crooked.

If you tell the truth often enough, when you say something, people are more likely to actually believe you.

I'm sure you can add a few more of your own. If you wonder what they are, you can find out. Go to top Top  Next issue: Never, Ever, Kill the Messenger  Next Issue

Rick BrennerThe article you've been reading is an archived issue of Point Lookout, my weekly newsletter. I've been publishing it since January, 2001, free to all subscribers, over the Web, and via RSS. You can help keep it free by donating either as an individual or as an organization. You'll receive in return my sincere thanks — and the comfort of knowing that you've helped to propagate insights and perspectives that can help make our workplaces a little more human-friendly. More

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See also Ethics at Work for more related articles.

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

Prof. Tom PettigrewComing February 21: The Ultimate Attribution Error at Work
When we attribute the behavior of members of groups to some cause, either personal or situational, we tend to make systematic errors. Those errors can be expensive and avoidable. Available here and by RSS on February 21.
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Briefly, when people exhibit narcissistic behavior they're engaging in activity that systematically places their own interests and welfare ahead of the interests and welfare of anyone or anything else. It's behavior that threatens the welfare of the organization and everyone employed there. Available here and by RSS on February 28.

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