4 Better than Average Ways to be Honest

Abraham LincolnDo you know what’s missing from today’s businesses? Brutal honesty. We’re so sensitive these days that we pussyfoot around the truth. We dance along the margins. We play among the muck.

The majority of today’s businesses and organizations are mediocre because we fail to be honest with ourselves, our management, and our customers.

We say, “Good job,” knowing it’s really crap. We say, “Let’s examine it further,” knowing it will be black holed. We say, “Send me a proposal,” knowing it will be sent to the circular file.

Be honest.

It’s crap. Start again.

It’s not going to work. Sorry.

We’re not interested. Thanks anyway.

Stop pretending to care. Stop feigning interest. Stop agreeing when you don’t.

Steve Jobs would tell you your idea sucks. Not that I knew him, but it seems like he is the type of guy that wouldn’t pat you on the head, tell you that it was a good try, and send you on your merry way. He would be honest. If it sucked, he said so. He wouldn’t raise your hopes, only to dash them behind your back. He would crush your dreams as you held them in your hand. Right or wrong, he gave his honest opinion.

Simon Cowell is another figure who will tell you his honest opinion. Sure, some of it is for show, but much of it is the truth. He does it as a favor to the aspiring starlets not out of spite, but out of compassion so they don’t waste more of their efforts.


Four Better than Average ways to be Honest

  1. State your stance – Verify that the person is open and receptive to your feedback.  Once agreeable, begin with, “I feel…” or something similar. Then give your truth. She can’t argue with your feelings. You feel how you feel. Do you ask permission to provide your thoughts?
  2. Stop the spin – If you see groupthink starting to occur, speak up. When the minions are simply agreeing with the leader, offer a contrarian point of view. Even if you don’t truly believe it, throw it out there as a “what if?” It will help cover the issue from all angles. Did you think of the flipside?
  3.  Establish expectations – If you are in a situation where you want the truth, set rules that encourage it. Guidelines like, “there are no wrong answers” or “we’re not looking to blame anyone, we want to improve” or “I really need your input to make a decision”, set the context so that everyone can dance in their own brilliance. Do you lay the ground rules for truth?
  4. Create a culture – If you want to establish a place of openness, honesty, and truth, create the culture encouraging it. Develop a space that is free from spin, buzzwords, and double talk. Remove any repercussions for truth telling. Hire those who speak their mind. And fire those who don’t play by the rules. What can you do to encourage honesty?

We’re all adults. (I trust that not many children read this blog.) Not everyone gets a trophy. Sometimes there isn’t a cherry on top. And every now and then, tough love is the right medicine.

Stop the bullshit. Be honest. It will save time, money, effort, and dreams.



When was the last time you told someone the truth?


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Todd Brockdorf
Better than Average Guy
#1 Best-Selling Author, Speaker, Thought Leader
[email protected]

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Mary Kelly

I love honesty, but many people are simply not prepared to hear the truth. I am a business consultant and last year I told three business owners that they needed to quit. Now. They were terrible business leaders with only marginal products. They were going to continue to fail but no one wanted to tell them.

People need to understand the difference between being encouraging and being dishonest.

GREAT article!

Mark Struczewski

Honesty: something that is also lacking in our government (I’m just sayin’).

Bulls**t: something that is NOT lacking in our government (again, I’m just sayin’)

“When was the last time you told someone the truth?”
The truth hurts. I can honestly say (sorry) that I have been successful at telling the truth – as hard as that is – more and more lately. Sometimes this is appreciated…others not so much. For example, just today, my wife and I got into a heated discussion about jury duty. I told her that I would suck as a juror…I can’t sit in a courtroom for hours on end listening to lawyers talk and talk. It would bore me to tears. The truth is that I SHOULD but I WOULDN’T. Am I a bad person?

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