Everyone is entitled to their opinions but – to paraphrase the late C.P. Scott, editor of the Guardian newspaper from 1872 until 1929 – the truth is sacred.
“Always tell the truth.” I grew up hearing that advice spoken from my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers and the parish priest. I have learned over the years that telling the truth can be a complicated business for some of us, perhaps even all of us. I remember one of the first lessons I learned at about the age of 8 or 9 when I along with one of my buddies decided to paint the neighbor’s white picket fence a vibrant shade of purple. We thought it a great trick, as neither of us liked the old crank at all and better yet he didn’t know we did it. Or, so we thought. By the time I strolled in the house I sensed that trouble was brewing when both my mom and dad were waiting at the kitchen table and abruptly told me in no certain terms to “sit down,” now. They told me they were interested in why my new Keds were covered in purple paint? Immediately lying seemed to be my best option. Five minutes later as I expounded on a colorful story about helping my buddy clean his garage and in doing so we tipped over a bucket of paint …. Well you know the drill – surprisingly (sarcasm) – I was not believed.
The result of the action was that I had to make amends and restitution with the old crank when I was forced to recount my actions and apologize and promise always to tell the truth whilst they waited in front of the house in the car.
Why am I recounting this childhood story for you? As an adult and an employee relations consultant and coach, I have witnessed incidents far too numerous where telling the truth would have nipped the problem in the bud. This experience plus watching our so-called leaders in government and corporate worlds destroy any semblance of truth with their outright lies and sins of omission and commission on a regular basis. What has happened to integrity, trustworthiness, loyalty and character? These leaders provide a kind of “same old, same old” role model that has infected our society and work worlds. It has bred a, “What the hell. If they do it, why shouldn’t I,” attitude that seems to have bashed any sense of trust and hope people might have. This situation we are in has prompted me to write this blog as an attempt to expose the shameful behavior that is infecting the workplace and life in general. Using half truths, innuendo and keeping little secrets instead of having the courage to do what your parents once admonished you to do is crippling relationships and stymieing trust.
Telling the truth, as I have discovered, can be a rather precarious thing to do and certainly does not endear you to people in power or authority in the workplace or in the community. I have been told numerous times that speaking your mind and telling the truth is not acceptable although that unspoken policy is never put down, officially, in writing. I at times, devastated by this culture of deceit and the flotsam and jetsam in power, as I have a deeper respect for rank and file manager, supervisor and employee. I am, however, concerned that they may adapt to this way of doing business.
Sadly, too many avoid that ethos and they opt for something worse than telling the truth ‑ silence. There is a certain kind of shame that perpetuates this lying behavior, which is acceptance of incompetence, hostile work environment and undue tension. They know they are working in positions that can have great influence where their words, actions and challenges could easily tell the story about what is really happening. They could demand accountability. What I say to them when I work with them is that if they are too afraid to tell the truth, or even uncover the most basic circumstances in an open way, then they are in the wrong profession and doing a great disservice to colleagues and the people that they are suppose to serve.
At the end of the day, the truth is always there. You might be attacked for telling it, ignorant individuals may choose to ridicule it, but it will not go away and the truth will win out.
To all those who continue to seek and to defend the truth, I salute you; and to those miserable individuals who remained silent or twisted the facts, there is a chance to redeem yourselves – over the next 72 hours you can make the choice to take the next step and report exactly what is happening and how it impacts employees, customers and the bottom line.
“Telling the truth might be an act of courage but it is also a powerful entity, which can open doors, shame leaders, companies, governments and mobilize people to fight for what is right and what is just.” ~ Unknown