Did you ever tell the truth and have it get you in hot water? Or by telling the truth end up losing a friend or colleague who now avoids you?

Were you ever so angry or frustrated that your "witch switch flipped" and you let your inner evil thoughts out. Sure, it was your truth. So, what did it get you? Maybe even fired?

At some point, each of us gets burned by the very thing we are taught is good. Does the truth really set us free?

It all depends on the why and the how.

Follow these rules to keep you from regretting what you say and how you say it.

First, truths collide. Your truth is your truth. It is filtered through all your past experiences, some obvious, others buried deep inside you. Often if you have been rejected in the past (and who hasn't) there's a desire for revenge. Bite your tongue and keep that inner witch in lock down.

Stop and ask yourself what you want as an outcome. Good idea to write down your thoughts, take a big deep breath and make sure you are telling your truth for the right reasons. Often, individuals tell truths under the banner of authenticity. https://hbr.org/2015/01/the-authenticity-paradox. This is often simplistic and hinders impact.

One more thought about revenge. It looks good in films or award winning books to inflict harm on someone for a wrong inflicted at their hands. Yet, long term consequences could just as well boomerang and smack you back, even years later.

Which brings me to the second rule: timing is everything.

As the truth purveyor please, and with this I am begging you, please put yourself in the other person's shoes, even just for a New York minute.

Ask yourself this question: Is the recipient of your truth ready to hear what you must say? Hint: better to talk truth in the morning rather than late in the day when people are tired and less able to hear hard truths.

If someone is just returning from a bout of flu or a root canal I bet you could wait a few hours, or a day to say what you need to say. As my favorite orchestra conductor teaches, it's all in the timing.

Third rule is: keep it short sweetheart.

Truth sentences are brief, no more than seven to twelve words. Not lots of run-on sentences attempting to explain something that you sprinkled with blame, judgment and attack.

We've all developed patterns of communication that are comfortable, not necessarily helpful, just comfortable. Once you become aware of these knee-jerk patterns and do something about them, http://www.ceoptions.com/leadership-behavior-quiz/ you can change and make great strides in telling the truth simply and more easily.

When you put on the robes of a judge you lose. Telling someone how wrong they are simply makes it about how good you are and how bad they are and it shuts down any honest communication to resolve issues.

Last, no voting.

When you start to include all the other people who side with you it waters down what you want to convey. Speak only for yourself and encourage others to do the same. When you speak for someone else it's about your need to feel important and not really about truth anymore.

It's true that the truth will set you free. https://hbr.org/2014/10/its-your-job-to-tell-the-hard-truths However, you need to factor in how you say what you say, when you say it and why. Give truth a strong foundation and you will be appreciated and respected in all areas of your life.

 

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Published on: Mar 27, 2017
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