Truth unsaid

by Jan 21, 2013Insights, Leadership

Me:  So when they asked you what your plans or aspirations were, what did you tell them?

Well, I did not say anything, because what were they going to do anyway?  I mean, I am frustrated in my job and they can’t change that.

Me: What are the consequences of that conversation?

What do you mean?

Me:  Consequences.  What happens next?

Nothing, I keep going to work and they keep doing their job.  Nothing changes.

Me: Is that okay?

No.  But what else was I supposed to do?

Me:  That is a great question for you to think about at some point.

A decision not to be open with what you are feeling or thinking is an action to allow decisions to be made with whatever information is known.  When it is a work decision, it is whatever you have shared combined with what your leader or those involved in the decision have decided is the truth.  When I hear a conversation like the one above, I always come back to “Are you okay with letting the decision be made with what is known?”

My rule:

Start with these questions:

  1. What are the outcomes I am looking for?
  2. What information do they need from me to help with this decision?
  3. What information do I need from them to help with this decision?
  4. Am I willing to share what they need from me?
  5. Am I willing to ask for what I need?

For #4 and #5 – if No, then:

  1. Assume that all information you have (how you are feeling) will come out later – How will that impact the relationship?  Is that the outcome you want?

The truth is never easy.  But when I hear it being shared from both sides my experience tells me there is a great chance the right decision will be made and the relationship will be preserved.

This weekend I was asked to contribute to an article about retaining your best people.  As part of it, they wanted my Top 3 things a leader can do to retain their best people.  My #1 – Tell them how much you value them.

It may not always be that easy, but it is that simple.

Development note: Want to explore and develop your own ability to manage difficult conversations?  One book that does a great job at this is Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott.

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