Straight Talk is Tough…but the Only Way

Since the beginning of the new millennium, it seems that at least once a week something appears in the news that another person or organization has been found to have lied about their credentials, the finances of their company, or committed a crime that resulted from some type of dishonest behavior. It makes you wonder why we do not see more examples of people stepping up and exposing the crimes or dishonest behavior while the acts are being committed and not waiting until after the behavior is discovered. But very quickly I remember why prevention does not happen!

As a person who has worked for more then 30 years with people in a variety of situations, I have found that most of us are risk-adverse, don’t want to be involved in others’ issues, or have a personal fear that something will happen if we speak up, give our honest opinion or become a whistleblower. If there was a simple answer to why this behavior happens, it would be easy to fix; but each of us has a different set of experiences, values and levels of confidence in confronting issues that require honesty and straight talk.

We discovered when we were talking to individuals while preparing to write our book, Absolute Honesty; Building a Corporate Culture That Values Straight Talk and Rewards Integrity (AMACOM June 2003), that most people would rather “go along to get along” when faced with difficult situations that they perceive will have a negative impact on them either personally or in their career. Most of us, when faced with a situation that requires us to step up and be directly honest with another person, will back off and take the route of least resistance.

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