June 15, 2014

Simon Sinek, whom I admire, wrote a piece for Askmen.com. His message and the following call-to-action were profound and simple. First, he shared a couple of examples of what seem like harmless white lies, paraphrased here:

  • – “I’m nearly done with that report you’re looking for.” (When, truthfully, you’ve not even begun.)
  • – “Yes, of course, your wedding is the best ever!” (Actually, the food was terrible and the band was worse.)

Surely you can add your own example or two. I suspect we’ve all done this, or something similar. At the time, it seems harmless enough. And maybe it actually is fairly harmless – the groom certainly doesn’t need to hear you didn’t like the chicken and as long as the boss gets the report on time, it doesn’t really matter if you scramble at the eleventh hour. In both examples, you’re protecting someone or something (yourself, in one case, and the groom’s feelings in the other.) That seems to justify the lies.

But I believe it’s more of the principle behind it. It’s a habit of being honest and a commitment to respect – which ultimately is my connotation of candor. As Sinek suggests, candor would have worked just as well in either case. For example:

  • – “I’ve had a hard time getting started, but you will have it when promised.” (Which could lead to – “Yes, thank you for the great ideas!”)
  • – “Your wedding will be so memorable – I’m delighted to be here and hope you are enjoying this moment!” (This is more honest and more respectful than offering your opinion on the menu.)

Sinek goes on to throw a 48-hour challenge out there: be completely honest for that 48 hours and take notice. He shared a great result from his own experience. He was honest even when he felt it might make him look bad and his honestly paid off. He learned the other party was not being critical or aggressive, just simply looking for a starting point. And their time together was far more productive.

So, I’m passing on the challenge. Set a couple of days aside and totally commit to be honest in every moment, even when it feels uncomfortable. Just remember, honesty is truthful not brutal, and candor is honesty with respect. Good luck!