Open and Honest Communication is the foundation of every meaningful relationship, professional or personal, and that is why it is the first of my Three Guiding Principles that we will discuss.
Former IBM CEO Louis V. Gerstner Jr. said it best: “It’s about communication. It’s about honesty. It’s about treating people in the organization as deserving to know the facts. You don’t try to give them half the story. You don’t try to hide the story. You treat them as true equals, and you communicate and you communicate and you communicate.”
In a business setting, Open and Honest Communication is key, regardless of your position. If you’re a manager, being open and honest will keep your employees in the know and working towards the same goal. The employees may not always like to hear that they’re going to have to work longer hours or under more stressful conditions, but if you pull back the curtains and explain why, you’re generally going to receive a better response. If you’re an employee, being open and honest with management can help make the workplace safer and more hospitable to everyone. These discussions are rarely fun, but Open and Honest Communication is absolutely vital to creating a successful company culture.
The same goes for things at home. We all have those times when something small is really eating at us, but we feel like the issue isn’t worth confronting someone else about. Good relationships involve constant communication and nothing ruins a tight-knit relationship faster than letting little things fester and explode into big arguments. Discuss it now, or yell about it later.
Unfortunately, fear of confrontation and letting things fester aren’t the only two obstacles to Open and Honest Communication.
Earlier this week, Tom Brady of the New England Patriots was suspended four games by the NFL for his involvement in what is being called Deflategate. If you’re unfamiliar with it, you’re very lucky, as it is one of the dumbest controversies I can remember.
However, many theorized that the Patriot Quarterback and reigning Super Bowl MVP was punished this severely not because he was involved in the cheating, but rather that he repeatedly lied to the NFL and public about said cheating.
We’ve seen the same thing happen at the college level with players like Dez Bryant lying about a dinner he attended at Deion Sanders’s house while he was playing at Oklahoma State. As a result of his lying to the NCAA about this impermissible benefit, Bryant was suspended his entire final season at Oklahoma State. The normal punishment for receiving an impermissible benefit like this is a couple of games maximum, usually much less.
But. He. Lied.
The point I’m getting at here is that we all mess up. We all do things we’re not supposed to on occasion whether intentionally (in the case of telling an assistant to deflate footballs before a game) or unintentionally (making a seemingly benign mistake at work that costs the company money,) but lying only makes things worse in the long run.
Had Tom Brady and Dez Bryant been open and honest when they messed up, would they still have been punished? Absolutely. But not to the same extent. Lying, or hiding the truth, will always result in more issues than it solves.
Lack of honesty in the form of letting things fester or not showing the whole picture, or even straight lying, will greatly hinder a company’s ability to reach their goals.
Open and Honest Communication, on the other hand, will make the people around you feel like you share a Mutual Respect and will help your company attain the Hard Results that you’re pushing for.