A Safe Place for Dangerous Truths: Using Dialogue to Overcome Fear and Distrust at Work

A Safe Place for Dangerous Truths: Using Dialogue to Overcome Fear and Distrust at Work

A Safe Place for Dangerous Truths: Using Dialogue to Overcome Fear and Distrust at Work

A Safe Place for Dangerous Truths: Using Dialogue to Overcome Fear and Distrust at Work

Synopsis

No more "checking for feet." This illuminating guide gets people to tell the truth at the meeting--not in the bathroom afterwards.

Almost everybody does it--lie, that is. In one recent survey 93% of people admitted to lying regularly at work! Why? Because it's safer than telling the truth.

Sadly, organizations cannot succeed in this poisonous world of half-truths, strategic omissions, and doctored information. To function optimally, businesses must create an environment where people feel free to tell the truth, no matter how disturbing. Only then can organizations unleash the responsiveness, creativity, and enthusiasm necessary to achieve their goals.

This unique book shows how, using the formal process of "dialogue," such a place can be built. In a lively discussion, the author shows managers how to use this technique to encourage truth-telling by reducing fear, prompting self-examination, and opening minds • build trust where suspicion and cynicism held sway • inspire individuals to think and learn as a group • help groups talk through tough issues and move to collaborative action.

Excerpt

Sometimes the only safe place for dangerous truth is in the bathroom … after checking for feet, of course.

Only then it is safe to talk. After the meeting, after everyone has said exactly what they were supposed to say, agreed to the action plan, and allocated tasks with due dates, comes the real truth:

“What a waste of time!”

“I’m not taking that back to my people—they’ve got to be kidding!”

“Don’t worry about it. It will fall apart long before your piece is due.”

Sometimes the meeting is debriefed like a play: “How about when Mark did that 180-degree flip? I thought I was gonna die! He will agree with anything she says,” or “Can you believe they still won’t face the fact that Amy can’t do the job?”

It never occurs to us that we are wasting each other’s time (and our own) by not telling the truth in the meeting rather than after it. Even when this thought does occur to us, we have many reasons why telling the truth just won’t work.

Why not? Why can’t we tell the truth? It’s dangerous, that’s why.

It’s dangerous for many reasons. Most of those reasons have to do with wanting to keep our jobs. But at what price? Holding back the truth means holding back other things, such as enthusiasm and commitment. Why can’t we create a place safe enough where we can tell the truth—where we want to tell the truth?

It would have to be a very safe place. People would need to trust one another, and they would have to care enough to take the risk. They would need to believe the result was worth the risk. They . . .

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