A Twitter connection posed this question in response to my post “Lying About Honesty.” It dealt with promoting honesty in the workplace:
Promoting Honesty Begins with Right Expectations
First, we need to have realistic expectations of what lies ahead. This means knowing that:
- Arguments will not work.
- Patience will help us avoid frustration.
- Discipline and persistence are our best allies.
This is an emotional challenge not a rational one. The logic of arguments will not work. Being honest begins with emotions. It is one that feels a need to be honest. It is one that feels safe in being honest.
We will need to repeat ourselves and follow up over time. We need discipline. We need resolve. We need follow up. After that, we follow up again.
Promoting Honesty Needs the Right Tactics
Second, once we firmed up our expectations, we apply ourselves. Word choice is key. Here are a few:
- Reduce email interactions and increase phone and in-person ones
- Avoid using emails to secure honest, truthful responses
- Alleviate pressure to perform and meet deadlines
- Use time-related words versus money-related ones
- Apply compliments to reinforce honesty when given
Phone calls and in-person interactions build relationships better than emails and text. Promoting honesty is very difficult without good relationships.
This does not mean stopping emails and texts. It just means these phone calls and in-person meetings are better at promoting honesty. When we need honesty, these work well.
This problem is worse when we pressure people. Some pressure is necessary. We can avoid much of it though. Pressure can be in the form of:
- Aggressive timetables
- Orders to do things a certain way
- Expectations to say the right things such as, “Yes!”
Word choice matters too. Time words help honesty. Money ones do not. Here are examples:
Promoting Honesty with Compliments
Compliments help too. They reinforce honest behaviors. They show value in their efforts and progress. It is as simple as saying:
- Thank you for being so honest with me.
- I appreciate you being honest.
- Your honesty helps me greatly.
- I value your honesty.
Emails pressuring people to work harder so we will not lose money raises the risk of dishonesty. In-person meetings to ease pressure, to discuss people’s time and to compliment them, reduces that risk.
Promoting honesty as leaders needs discipline, persistent and patience. We stay focused on the long-term goal. It is worth it.