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Can I be honest with you?

by Adam Zack — March 15, 2017

“Does this dress make me look fat?”

I’ve been obsessed with speech phrases, responses and habits lately. Someone finishing my sentence before I finish drives me nuts. Responding with “I know” makes me crazy. “Perfect” – really? Contradicting every statement with “No” and a correcting comment: Put me in a straight jacket. It’s me, I know. I’m a grammar and speech lunatic. So the latest one that I keep hearing over and over is “Can I be honest with you?” Think about it. What’s the right response? “Um, no. I really prefer to be lied to.” Or “Why would you, I’m never honest with you.” I suppose if I asked “How does this shirt look on me?” or “Does this dress make me look fat?” when answered with “Can I just be honest with you?” might be appropriate – and at the same time make me (or someone, I don’t wear dresses) feel sad. But in the course of everyday conversation it’s a waste of words – one of those automatic responses like “perfect”. I think it came from some guy who was always a yes man. “Yessir” and “I just do what I’m told.”, who one day got sick of it and said to the boss “Can I just be honest with you?” The boss, thinking this guy had always been honest in the past was probably taken aback, and said “Yes of course.” And the honesty was something the boss did not really want to hear, because it made him feel like he was making bad decisions and choices. It’s a vicious circle. We value honesty as one of the highest values, but many times don’t really want to hear it if it’s something that we don’t agree with. If you’re a good listener no one should have to ask to be honest with you. A great leader cultivates a culture of honesty and comfortable dialog. No one should ask to be honest. You expect nothing less, and they know you mean it when you ask for their opinion. Honestly. Now about how that dress makes me look….

Read More – Are Feelings Relevant in an Organization?

 

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