The Skill of Truth-Telling

The Skill of Truth-Telling

Whether it’s the omission of a fact, the little white lie or an intentional deception, we have all participated in offering an inaccurate slant on reality. 

Why do we do it? 

So many reasons. To impress, to avoid consequences, to avoid being judged, to try and get our own way, to avoid feeling shame, to avoid hurting someone else’s feelings, to get the job or the promotion. 

Current events have focused a lot lately on how the lack of truth-telling can come back and bite you. Even if truth, because it is the morally right thing to do does not appeal, there are plenty of reasons for learning how to do it, even when it’s hard. 

Authenticity is a frequently used word in our society. We love authenticity, so we think. It includes being real, truthful, transparent, even when that doesn’t make you look good. It is not an easy thing to be authentic. 

To live life more truthfully, the following is what needs to happen: 

* We have to let go of the desire to look like we always have it all together - there is some ego to let go of to be a consistent truth-teller. 

* We have to trust people to still like us and accept us when we can’t impress them because the truth isn’t always impressive. 

* Fact checking is important before we pass along what we think we know. Or at least say that the facts have not been checked. 

* We need to have skills to give difficult feedback to others in ways that communicate acceptance so that they can grow. 

* We need to believe that we are lovable and worthy of acceptance - in all of our imperfection. 

There are cultures where it is considered more polite to lie then to tell you something you don’t want to hear. This leads to a lot of confusion and further hurt feelings if you don’t know the cultural norms here. There are people in our North American cultures that have adopted a practice of telling you what they think you want to hear as either self-protection or to manipulate.  

Truth is tough. You can’t always get your way with truth.

What do you have to gain by embracing truth-telling? 

* Respect. Especially when a lie or a deception would make you look better but you choose truth. It is easy to respect people who tell you the truth when that is a hard thing to do. 

* Friends. Back to authenticity. People who have the courage and the self-confidence to stand in relationship without embellishment are people who are capable of connection at a deeper level. We can’t be intimate with each other's layers of self-protection. Only with the real person beneath those layers! 

* Professional advancement. This is no guarantee but the ability to own mistakes in the workplace can really build trust for you and help you be seen as a leader. 

There’s more here but let’s use our current surroundings with mentions of “fake news” and reporting of events that never happened to remind us to grow in our own embracing of truth-telling. 

Until next week, 


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Marilyn Orr is a Professional Certified Coach, who, through her coaching business “ Building Coaching”, thrives on building both personal and organization capacity through leadership coaching and development.

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