Office Diaries

An insider's guide to success in the workplace

"The Truth Hurts" is a Lie

Does the truth hurt more than a lie?

It's a pattern not just in the workplace, but in life too. I see it all the time; too much of the time actually. People are so frightened to say something negative that they end up saying nothing at all. But that's not good. It prevents movement forward. Actually, it prevents movement of any kind, in any direction. Yet, in business where communication is the most important tool we have and where we need flexibility and agility most, people freeze, trapping their words inside which in turn only serves to paralyze their organizations too.

But, despite what we learn as children, saying something "negative" doesn't actually have to be negative. Why? Well, because information is valuable and honesty is the most humane gift you can give someone. So, how can hiding it not be considered more negative than anything else? People freak out and avoid having to "reject" job applicants or tell employees when they are not performing well, and that names only just a few. People think they are being nice by lying. But not only is that not accurate, it also makes no sense. It may indeed be "easier," but a cowardly workforce does not make for a strong, healthy business. So, my advice? Change the way you think about speaking the truth. It's not negative. I mean, how can telling someone what you think and how you feel be bad? And at the same time, how can depriving people of information that will help them make decisions that are right for them be good? Beats the heck out of me.

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Donna Flagg is the author of Surviving Dreaded Conversations and a New York City-based dancer.

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