Leadership Lessons: Telling the Truth Is NOT Spilling Your GUTS

Summary: Truth and freedom are roommates who depend on each other to help us live fully engaged and positive lives. Here are ways to investigate the power of truth.

Dear Dr. Sylvia,

I recently read excerpts from “The Spare “by Prince Harry, and all I could think of was a line from Stephen Sondheim’s powerful play “Into the Woods.”

In the play, there are two princes, brothers, who are out and about doing what it is the princes do.

At one point, the prince who married Cinderella was gallivanting about, and she called him on it. His response reminded me of present-day Harry when he said, “I was born to be charming, not sincere.”

That led me to ponder what it means to be sincere, to tell the whole truth.

I know you tackle this subject in your book, “Don’t Bring It To Work,” and I would appreciate further amplification about what it means when you say, “Telling the truth is NOT spilling your guts.”

As background, I am a Senior VP in a marketing company, and we often use flowery words to “stretch” the truth. (Sad but true).

Honest communication means no fancy frills when you talk

I need better guardrails for my honest communication at work and home.

How much information is enough, and how much is too much when targeting the truth?

Looking forward to your response


Sincere and charming

Dear Sincere and charming,

Your question is so vital for the present times.

We live in a world of extreme polarities. It seems we cannot get beyond either/or, good/bad, right/wrong, and another big one, black/white.

An excerpt from pages 170-71 in “Don’t Bring It T Work.”

Truth-telling is an art form that takes practice to develop

                       “Truth-telling resembles a martial art in that it takes

                         tremendous discipline; it’s not just a punch here or a jab there.

                         Please note that telling the truth does not mean saying everything

                         you think or adding every nuance to explain, defend,

                         or justify yourself.

                         The question in the back of your mind at all times is, “How can this

                          forward the situation and make a positive difference?” When you

                          tell the truth, especially when you are angry or disappointed,

                          remember that you are not meant to spill your guts or set up  

                          a situation where, as in a contest, you have gathered votes to prove

                          that your way is the best.

                           Once you begin to say something like, “Furthermore, the whole

                           the team agrees with me,” you have moved out of essential truths into

                           the area of debate.”

  When you tell the truth, you have less to remember

    My observation of truth-telling is that:

  1. Truth sentences are short
  2. No rambling paragraphs
  3. Stay with one subject at a time
  4. Make specific points
  5. No “furthermore” and “therefore” add-ons
  6. Truth sentences are around seven to max twelve words
  7. Finish talking and take a deep breath or two
  8. Maintain a few moments of silence
  9. Drink some water or take a short walk
  10. Then say, “And now I’d like to hear from you.”

Here are some thoughts when telling the truth appropriately is not enough.

You can offer to give others your suggestions and be incredibly centered when you tell the truth. However, if after at least three attempts to resolve a situation and it is still creating a hostile environment, you need to back off.

If the patterned behavior of the other folk/s gets too much in the way, then it is up to HR to set up a Performance Improvement Plan. Hopefully, this will create a breakthrough.

To summarize, telling the truth can be considered an art form. Much like playing music at the best tempo, finding the perfect color for your oil painting, or having the suitable chi kung moves, it takes time, practice, and constantly redefining which words hurt and which words help.

I hope this overview helps.

Here’s to your success,

Sylvia Lafair

PS. Please get in touch with us here if you want a complimentary copy of “Communicate to Captivate.”

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Sylvia Lafair

Creative Energy Options