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.
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.
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More articles on Ethics at Work:
- Workplace Politics vs. Integrity
- A reader wrote recently of wanting to learn "to effectively participate in office politics without
compromising my integrity." It sometimes seems that those who succeed in workplace politics must
know how to descend to the blackest depths, and still sleep at night. Must we abandon our integrity
to participate in workplace politics?
- Some Truths About Lies: I
- However ethical you might be, you can't control the ethics of others. Can you tell when someone knowingly
tries to mislead you? Here's Part I of a catalog of techniques misleaders use.
- Ethical Influence: I
- Influencing others can be difficult. Even more difficult is defining a set of approaches to influencing
that almost all of us consider ethical. Here's a framework that makes a good starting point.
- Personnel-Sensitive Risks: II
- Personnel-sensitive risks are risks that are difficult to discuss openly. Open discussion could infringe
on someone's privacy, or lead to hurt feelings, or to toxic politics or toxic conflict. If we can't
discuss them openly, how can we deal with them?
- Some Truths About Lies: III
- Detecting lies by someone intent on misrepresentation is an important skill for executives, managers,
project managers, and just about anyone involved in knowledge-oriented organizations. Here's Part III
of our little collection of lie detection techniques.
See also Ethics at Work for more related articles.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming January 24: Understanding Delegation
- It's widely believed that managers delegate some of their own authority and responsibility to their subordinates, who then use that authority and responsibility to get their work done. That view is unfortunate. It breeds micromanagers. Available here and by RSS on January 24.
- And on January 31: Nine Brainstorming Demotivators: I
- The quality of the output of brainstorming sessions is notoriously variable. One source of variation is the enthusiasm of contributors. Here's Part I of a set of nine phenomena that can limit contributions to brainstorm sessions. Available here and by RSS on January 31.
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- The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
- Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program. Here's a date for this program:
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