Tell the Truth

I am still exploring Angeles Arrien’s work in this blog – the next step that all change agents or leaders engage in is Tell the Truth Without  Blame or Judgment.  Really?  Is that all?  Well that’s easy enough.  Until it isn’t. Telling the truth requires a willingness to put oneself out there to be judged ourselves.  It can also cause more trouble than it is sometimes worth.  But let’s also remember that it doesn’t say  tell the truth at all costs.  Costs need to be weighed, and found worth paying.  As. Dr. Angeles says:

“Communication that carries integrity always considered timing and context before the delivery of content. ”

Angeles Arrien; The Four-Fold Way; Harper San Francisco, 1993, pg. 83

The second piece is often overlooked – without blame or judgment.  This can be the biggest challenge at all, but it harkens  back to a lot of research about leadership which asserts that one of the jobs of the leader is to DEFINE REALITY as it currently stands.  A certain amount of detachment and objectivity when ‘calling it as it is’ is a useful skill.  It means we have to practice use of the ‘neutral’ voice, one that doesn’t carry significant emotional freight that needlessly weighs the truth down.  Just truth, stated baldy as something that needs to be considered.  To continue the above quote:

“Direct communication – giving voice to what we see without blame or judgment- means we must consider the alignment of appropriate word choice, tone of voice and body posture.”

And here is another rub.  I don’t know about you, but I am a little skittish about designating myself as the one with enough information, intelligence, authority  – and goodness only knows how long this list might actually be but you get the idea – to tell the Truth with a capital ‘T’.  Because who knows what the truth is, my reality is so radically different from your reality that I feel competent, just, to ‘test’ for what might be ‘true’ for you, or the group, right now.  I find that trying several different potential truths at any given moment can work better.  Unless the truth is staring you in the face and there is no equivocating.  But whether it is raining or not is rarely a source of conflict or confusion.

Ask yourself:

  • Am I saying everything that needs to be said?
  • If not , what is keeping from doing it?
  • How can I do so appropriately?

2 thoughts on “Tell the Truth

  1. Hi! I just went through this 15 minutes ago. I started writing a response to a question from a LinkedIn group I belong to. I wrote my comment, which originally I thought to be helpful and then started second guessing myself because my colleagues and peers would be reading my comments.

    I realized I was the 1st to comment and was wondering what others would think. I finally decided to just leave it and hope that my comments would be read as helpful and not judged.

    Telling the truth can be hard when you begin to judge yourself or wonder if others will judge. I did ask myself if my answer was about me or about helping others through my answer. That seemed to keep me on track and let me answer the question truthfully.

    Great post!

    • I am so pleased that you were encouraged to tell your truth. It does take courage, because you will be judged. Chances are though, that you will not be found wanting, rather others will be moved by your insights. !

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