Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

Straight Talk–Say What Needs To Be Said

secret-hearts-brianTry Straight Talk

Many of the  problems at work and elsewhere could be reduced dramatically if people would tell the truth in appropriate ways. Instead, problem solving is stalled by those who hint, pretend to joke, talk in round-about ways or try to avoid having conflict. 

I’m not talking here about the oft-mentioned Abilene Paradox, in which people think their ideas are not in alignment with the group, so they don’t speak up. I’m talking about what is essentially deceit, wishy-washiness and lacking character and courage. And what’s worse, many people will complain, worry and moan after the fact–when they had the chance to do something constructive,  face-to-face with someone.

It isn’t necessary to blurt unnecessary truths just for the sake of doing it. And, “in your face” confrontation is not effective either.  It is also true that some things are not worth confronting, even if they could be corrected. (If that’s the case, don’t complain about it to other people!) However…

If something is weighing on your mind,
If you want to say something about a problem,
If you wonder what someone meant,
If you are confused about instructions or directions,
If you have an appropriate thought or feeling you want to express,

….just do it, in a courteous way that seeks to find the truth and works within the situation. You will also save a lot of time that way–and you will get to the core of problems, rather than dancing all around them.

Look for these times when you need to say what needs to be said:

  • You wonder what someone meant by a remark they made.
  • You don’t understand the directions you were given.
  • You don’t agree with what was said or done.
  • You have a feeling that you want to express.
  • You don’t want something to happen again.
  • Someone is lying or purposely trying to mislead, and you know the truth.
  • You and others have complained behind someone’s back about their actions.
  • You wonder what someone else is thinking about a situation.

In non-conflict situations, straight talk may simply mean asking questions to understand what someone meant, finding out about what is confusing you or stating your true opinion. In situations of conflict, it may mean owning up  to your frustrations and irritation and telling someone what is bothering you and why. For a supervisor it may mean speaking directly to correct problems rather than hinting around about them. For an employee it may mean asking a supervisor about how work is going and what is needed for improvement, rather than wondering and worrying or being angry over an evaluation but not finding out more about it.

It’s called communication, and it should be as open and honest as professional situations and sensitivity allows.

If the person you need to talk to is higher than you in the organization, you may be limited in what you can say–but you still can seek to clarify an issue or express a feeling.  If the person is a peer, you should be courteous and professional–but if something needs to be said–say it. You’ll feel better about it and you can get a subject cleared up and out of the way much more quickly.

Say what you mean and mean what you say–it will save a lot of time, and in the long run it will improve relationships, your reputation and your effectiveness.

May 26th, 2009 Posted by | Personal and Professional Development | 10 comments