Create Moments of Honesty Every Day

Last week I was invited to appear on Good Day DC to celebrate National Honesty Day. We had a great conversation about honesty and the impact it has on both personal and professional relationships.

Here are just a few of the things that we talked about during the interview:

  • Why the unsaid is often more harmful than the things that are being said
  • The reason the “sandwich method”, often used to deliver criticism, is manipulative and what to do instead
  • Why appreciation is something we need to practice on a much more regular basis

Although National Honesty Day is now behind us, we want to encourage you to create moments of honesty every day. Getting the unsaid said, appreciating each other more and being honest in our communication will lead to more successful relationships and business interactions.

Watch the interview and, once you’ve had a chance to tune in, Tweet your thoughts to me at @Steven_Gaffney with the hashtag #HonestyEveryDay.


National Honesty Day, April 30th

National Honesty Day brings us a healthy reminder to examine your current level of honesty. This holiday challenges people to evaluate just how honest they are.

Lying is not just about making false statements. It also encompasses everything that is conveniently left out, avoided or withheld. In my nearly 20 years’ experience advising top government leaders and Fortune 500 executives on increasing the bottom line through open, honest communication, I have seen the mounting costs of such withholding.

A survey of 1,000 adults reported in James Paterson and Peter Kim’s book, “The Day America told the Truth,” found that 91% of people lied routinely. I like to add that the other 9% probably lied when surveyed.

Open, honest communication is often the antidote to the hidden costly problems that inhibit organizations’ teamwork, collaboration, innovation and growth. This National Honesty Day, try it out. Discover the opportunities honest communication brings in both your professional and personal life.

If you struggle from withholding the truth, there are a few things you can do to change your behavior and in turn change your life. I invite you to take that challenge today, National Honesty Day, in discovering the hidden truths in your life.

Watch this video clip from Fox News for practical advice on how to incorporate more honesty in your relationships, company or work place.

I’d also love to hear from you on Twitter or over on our Facebook page. I want to know how your honesty day went and what you learned from it.


The Law of Reflection

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Abide by the Law of Reflection

The Law of Reflection states that what we give out is what we tend to get back. You may also know this law as the Golden Rule, or by the phrases “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” or “What goes around comes around.” 

We have all heard these phrases in various forms and often recite them ourselves, but what strikes me is how easy it is to forget the powerful role this philosophy plays in honest communication.

Just think about it. How often have you experienced someone who does not listen to you or is not fully honest with you? In the spirit of National Honesty Day, be truly honest with yourself. Have there been times when you did not listen to that person or when you failed to openly share with them? As leaders, parents, colleagues and friends, we must model the behavior we seek.

When people blame us, we tend to blame them; when people accuse us, we tend to accuse them right back; when people withhold information from us, we tend to keep information from them. It also tends to hold true in the positive direction. When people take responsibility for their actions, we tend to take responsibility for ours; when people apologize, we tend to apologize back; when people focus on the solution; we tend to do the same.

Abiding by the Law of Reflection motivates you to be honest with others and compels others to be more honest with you. Be honest in acknowledging your mistakes, communicating your concerns and expressing your appreciation. Doing so will encourage others to do the same. Take that a step further and really listen to people if you want people to listen to you. Listen, no matter who are speaking with.

As National Honesty Day quickly approaches, abiding by the Law of Reflection is one way to increase your level of honesty.


How to Deliver Bad News

Steven - 2015 profileBad news about us is better coming from our own mouths than from someone else’s.

As National Honesty Day approaches and you consider your own level of honesty, you might find yourself in the “Truth vs. Lies” trap. This trap leads many to believe that if they simply refrain from lying, they are honest. That’s a great start, but as I’ve said before, honesty goes beyond not telling lies. It also requires us to share ALL details (the good and the bad) and to tackle difficult conversations head-on. These aspects of honesty are particularly challenging when it comes to delivering bad news about ourselves.  

Sharing bad news is part of everyday life. The key is to proactively share such information before the other party discovers it. In the end, people usually find out the truth. Therefore, honest communication is critical to establishing credibility and trust with our customers, potential clients, co-workers and staff, as well as our family and friends. You can tell how open and trustworthy a relationship is by how willing someone is to share things that are difficult but important to hear.

When it’s time to share bad news and difficult information, keep in mind these four techniques for effectively delivering the message:

Deliver it immediately.

Bad news about us is better coming from our own mouths than from someone else’s. If someone else discovers our bad news before we divulge it, it undermines their trust in us, and they may begin to wonder what else we are hiding.

Take 100 percent responsibility for your actions.

Remember, no one makes us do anything. We choose our actions for a variety of reasons. Great leaders and coaches take responsibility for their team’s actions as well as their own. Taking responsibility helps others receive any news favorably. Consider Ronald Reagan. He began slipping in the polls during the Iran-Contra affair until he took full responsibility. After taking responsibility, his popularity rose again.

Get ahead of the curve on bad information.

If the future looks bleak or more bad information is possible, find out as much as you can and share it as quickly as possible before someone else discovers it. Years ago, tainted Tylenol killed people, yet the company survived the crisis in part because company officials quickly and openly shared what they knew with the public.

Take immediate and widespread action to correct the situation.

People feel more secure when they hear and witness someone doing something about the situation. Unfortunately, organizations and individuals often take a reactive wait-and-see approach – only to have the situation worsen. How we respond to mistakes defines us. Consider the Tylenol example again. The company immediately pulled all the potentially deadly products off store shelves. They did not wait to be forced to take action; they proactively told the public what their company was doing to correct the situation and prevent further accidents.

No one likes to share bad information, but doing so honestly is imperative to maintaining the bond of trust. Trust is the foundation of all relationships, and honest communication is the key to developing and building the relationships we desire.

Keep an eye out for tomorrow’s honest communication tip in honor of National Honesty Day (April 30)!

Did this tip help you? We welcome your feedback at info@stevengaffney.com or 703-241-7796.


National Honesty Day: April 26 Honest Communication Tip

National Honesty Day is a great reminder to tell the truth, but it also forces us to confront the ugly truth about how honest others are being with us.

National Honesty Day arrives April 30, bringing with it a healthy reminder to examine your current level of honesty. The holiday was created so the month would end with focus on honesty after beginning by encouraging lies and deceit (April Fools’ Day). The holiday challenges people to evaluate just how honest they are. Be aware, though … you may be surprised by your findings.

A survey of 1,000 adults reported in James Patterson and Peter Kim’s book “The Day America Told the Truth” found that 91 percent lie routinely. I like to joke that perhaps the other 9 percent lied when surveyed. This percentage may be surprising to some, but consider your definition of “lying.”

Lying is not just about making false statements. It also encompasses everything that is conveniently left out, avoided or withheld. In my nearly 20 years experience advising top government leaders and Fortune 500 executives on increasing the bottom line through open, honest communication, I have seen the mounting costs of such withholding.

Open, honest communication is often the antidote to the hidden costly problems that inhibit organizations’ teamwork, collaboration, innovation and growth. This National Honesty Day, try it out. Discover the opportunities honest communication brings in both your professional and personal life.

Why limit honesty to just one day, though? If you are feeling really brave, try honesty out for the whole week. In honor of National Honesty Day, I will reveal one honest communication tip each day to help everyone get the “unsaid” said. Implementing the tactics I provide will improve the results of your honesty evaluation on April 30. The honest communication tips will be posted to my Facebook page and this Communication Blog. Please feel free to comment and let me know what results you see by using the tips!

Honest Communication Tip for April 26:
Abide by the Law of Reflection

The Law of Reflection states that what we give out is what we tend to get back. You may also know this law as the Golden Rule, or by the phrases “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” or “What goes around comes around.”

We have all heard these phrases in various forms and often recite them ourselves, but what strikes me is how easy it is to forget the powerful role this philosophy plays in honest communication.

Just think about it. How often have you experienced someone who does not listen to you or is not fully honest with you? In the spirit of National Honesty Day, be truly honest with yourself. Have there been times when you did not listen to that person or when you failed to openly share with them? As leaders, parents, colleagues and friends, we must model the behavior we seek.

When people blame us, we tend to blame them; when people accuse us, we tend to accuse them right back; when people withhold information from us, we tend to keep information from them. It also tends to hold true in the positive direction. When people take responsibility for their actions, we tend to take responsibility for ours; when people apologize, we tend to apologize back; when people focus on the solution; we tend to do the same.

Abiding by the Law of Reflection motivates you to be honest with others and compels others to be more honest with you. Be honest in acknowledging your mistakes, communicating your concerns and expressing your appreciation. Doing so will encourage others to do the same. Take that a step further and really listen to people if you want people to listen to you. Listen, no matter who are speaking with.

As National Honesty Day quickly approaches, abiding by the Law of Reflection is one way to increase your level of honesty.

This article is the property of the Steven Gaffney Company. Please e-mail info@stevengaffney.com or call 703-241-7796 for permission to reprint this article in any format. Copyright 2011, www.stevengaffney.com.