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:
- Ethical Influence: II
- When we influence others as they're making tough decisions, it's easy to enter a gray area. How can
we be certain that our influence isn't manipulation? How can we influence others ethically?
- Telephonic Deceptions: I
- People have been deceiving each other at work since the invention of work. Nowadays, with telephones
ever-present, telephonic deceptions are becoming more creative. Here's Part I of a handy guide for telephonic
- More Things I've Learned Along the Way
- Some entries from my personal collection of useful insights.
- The Costanza Matrix
- The Seinfeld character "George Costanza" is famous for having said, "It's not a lie if
you believe it." What if you don't believe it and it's true? Some musings.
- Counterproductive Knowledge Work Behavior
- With the emergence of knowledge-oriented workplaces, counterproductive work behavior is taking on new
forms that are rare or inherently impossible in workplaces where knowledge plays a less central role.
Here are some examples.
See also Ethics at Work for more related articles.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming January 22: Disjoint Awareness: Bias
- Some cognitive biases can cause people in collaborations to have inaccurate understandings of what each other is doing. Confirmation bias and self-serving bias are two examples of cognitive biases that can contribute to disjoint awareness in some situations. Available here and by RSS on January 22.
- And on January 29: Higher-Velocity Problem Definition
- Typical approaches to shortening time-to-market for new products usually involve accelerating problem solving. Accelerating problem definition can also help. Available here and by RSS on January 29.
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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.
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