Telling the Truth

I caught the Daily Show the other day as Jon Stewart was interviewing Bill Moyers and they were speaking about the quality and depth of Moyer’s interviews over the years. Moyers said something that has been niggling at the back of my mind.

He was telling us why he no longer likes to interview politicians. And I paraphrase here “it’s because they want to conceal their thoughts not expose them.” He then offered a great example from our current run up to the GOP Primary. As Newt Gingrich was interviewed and asked about the new Republican Plan for healthcare, he expressed his true feelings and was skewered. His remark was something along the lines of I don’t approve of right wing social engineering any more than I do left wing social engineering. For a moment, I admired Newt. Then he took it all back in the face of criticism from the media and others in the GOP.

I think we can see this behavior in many of our lives. I can recall one manager who was famous for instigating a new program, spending time, energy and resources to kick it off. As soon as the critics checked in, he was all, “well you know this came from above, it really wasn’t my idea.”

Steve was not with the organization for very long. His staff came to recognize that he did not mean what he said; that when things got difficult he did not have their back so they began to ignore him.

What has happened to the idea that we can say what we mean and mean what we say? Last night a colleague of mine was speaking of Theodore Roosevelt and the book, Colonel Roosevelt. Mark said, “While I did not agree with many of his viewpoints you always knew where TR stood. He was forthright, he was direct and he was passionate.”

I have sat through many a presentation and negotiation. I have been in countless meetings where we are seeking agreement or a plan of action. What I have observed is that when we are direct, forthright, and transparent, (meaning no hidden agendas) the conversation moves much more effectively. That is not to say there is no conflict, there often is. What it means is that at the end of the day clients felt they could buy, colleagues felt they could solve and work got done. When we dissemble it gums up the works.

–    Are you speaking your truth
–    Where can you be more direct (without being harsh)
–    How can you be more transparent?

Take Good Care



  1. At the end of the day, all we really have is our word, our integrity. If we can’t tell the truth, then we are left with nothing.

  2. Hi John,

    Very interesting thoughts. I have to wonder why people are not more honest. Are they unsure of what the truth is? Do they not know what they believe? Do they lack the conviction to stand up for themselves in the face of criticism.

    Honesty is not something to be taken lightly. And just look at how people are trying to hide the truth. The most recent example being Weiner. In this day and age you can’t hide from the truth and the cover up is nearly always worse than the crime.

    Thanks for posting your thoughts….

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