Truth vs. Peace: Give Your Colleagues The Truth They Can Handle

Aug 27, 2019

By Dough Harris, CEO, The Kaleidoscope Group
This is part 2 of a 3 part series

“Honesty is the best policy.” Most of us have heard that phrase many times. However,  honesty, like many policies, can produce the worst results. But why?

“It’s not just what we’re doing, but who we’re being as we’re doing what we’re doing that makes all the difference.” Doug Harris

Over 30 years of working with organizations, big and small, with individuals from the C-Suite to the warehouse floor, I have helped organizations to develop and implement just about any policy around diversity, inclusion, and equity you could possibly imagine. And, having seen individuals and organizations do everything from soar into greater productivity and profit to crash and burn into losses and lawsuits, it has become clear to me that the key to success is not in the phrasing of the policy or the specific consequences and rewards around compliance. What is the key? Honestly… it’s The Love Principle.

Now, some people might misunderstand what “The Love Principle” means. They might understand “love” to mean I’m suggesting we all operate in what I call “peace,” a place of “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” That’s not what I am advocating at all. The reality is that we need to be able to share our truth in business and in life. If issues go unaddressed, if necessary changes are not made, if feedback is not given, the result will be stagnation and failure. Many well-intentioned people have learned from shrinking bottom lines that silence can be far from golden.

It’s been said that “A real friend isn’t somebody who tells you what you want to hear. A real friend is somebody who tells you what you need to hear.” So… should we be brutally honest? No, that’s not what I mean by love either. I mean, think about it. Who wants to be brutalized? I don’t. Brutalized people are left battered and tattered and no one is at their best in that condition. We need our colleagues at their best to get the best results.

No, The Love Principle leads us to a third option: Respectful Truth. When we share respectful truth, we honor our own truth and the people around us. The Love Principle shifts our thinking and actions from “what’s best for me” to “what’s best for all.” The greater good becomes our greatest commitment. So, we don’t conceal our truth, existing in “peace.” And we don’t engage in “brutal honesty,” damaging trust and destroying relationships. What we do is practice the emotional maturity and intelligence to translate what “I want to say” to what “they need to hear.”

I have watched The Love Principle transform organizations, fostering inclusive cultures that draw the best out of all stakeholders. I have heard employees tell success stories, having elevated their level of performance, based on feedback shared with them respectfully. I have experienced the commitment of my own colleagues, who know their CEO leads with The Love Principle and who go out into the world and make a difference, doing the same. And that’s the truth.

This article is the second of three in a series on The Love Principle by Doug Harris, CEO of The Kaleidoscope Group. Explore the rest of the series below

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