"Honesty is such a lonely word. Everyone is so untrue." Who made this sad commentary? Was it Michael Moore in his smash summer blockbuster hit, Fahrenheit 9/11? No, it was none other than Billy Joel, presumably talking about failed romantic relationships. But honest is critical in all of our relationships with our spouse, family, friends and acquaintances -- and it is essential to be direct and straightforward with our colleagues in the workforce.
A recent study revealed that 94% of the people polled, when guaranteed anonymity, admitted to lying "regularly and often" at the office. Why is this? These people were usually trying to avoid conflict or bringing negative attention to themselves.
In her book, GETTING REAL, author and life coach, Susan Campbell, discusses two distinct forms of communication. The first form is known as "controlling." When people are operating from a controlling mode, they are concerned about what other people will think about them. They seek approval and long for peace and stability; they don't want to rock the boat or to create controversy of any kind. Controllers also have difficulty listening to other people -- often they are convinced that they are right and the other person is wrong. That makes it harder for them to hear what other people are saying. This is especially problematic for a manager who is unable to properly listen to the concerns of his or her employees.
The second form of communication is called "relating." When people are relating, their main goal is to have other people understand them. They speak their truth without fear of hurting someone else's feelings or trying to look more together than they really are. Of course, someone who is skilled at the art of relating will always try to be truthful and considerate. Clearly, "relating" is the preferred means of communication.
The other night, I was watching a rerun of Seinfeld that was really funny. A guy that Jerry didn't particularly like kept asking him out to ball games, parties and the movies. No matter how many times Jerry said no, the man just did not get the message. So Jerry devised an "excuse list," which he kept next to the phone. He couldn't go to the movies because he was going to choir practice! “Sorry, Elaine and I can't possibly attend that party because we’re volunteering to raise money for cerebral palsy!"
The next time that you're tempted to reach into your pocket for your "excuse list," ask yourself: Is there some way that I can be honest and direct in this situation? After all, the Piano Man told us that honesty is in short supply, but it's mostly what we need from other people.
Sigrid Macdonald is a book coach, a public speaker, a book editor and an author. She has written two books including Getting Hip, a patient's guide to hip replacement surgery, and D'Amour Road, a novel about a woman who goes missing. Read more about her at http://www.sigridmacdonald.blogspot.com.
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