I often ask people how safe is it for them to say what they really think in their workplace. For example, is it safe for them to say what they really, truly think in meetings or in discussions with their boss or with colleagues?
Sadly, the answer I often hear is.... “are you mad! No, it's not safe – not safe at all”. When I ask why, I hear everything from - it would be career limiting through to horror stories from the repercussions of telling the truth the last time! When did it become so unsafe to tell the truth? It scares me that being real, being honest has become an everyday act of heroism.
Nancy Kline, author of one of my all time favourite books, Time to Think says:
“the quality of everything human beings do – everything - depends
on the quality of the thinking we do first”
However, if the discussions, the thinking, we do together is not real, is not honest, then what is the quality of our decisions? Or indeed what's the personal cost of thinking one thing and saying another? As a result, the price we could be paying for creating environments where it's not safe to tell the truth could be high – very high.
Though it's tempting to point the finger elsewhere, maybe the best place to start is with ourselves. Perhaps the question we should be asking is, “how can I become the kind of person to whom people will speak the truth?”
So ask yourself...
- what is the one thing you wished people around you would discuss honestly?
- do people feel safe to tell you the truth? Really – how do you know?
- what if many of the decisions you make are based on incorrect information?
“We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and
actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people”
Martin Luther King