When the truth costs you

What do you do when you know something that is true, but saying that truth will cost you something? Sometimes, telling the truth risks us losing our influence. Most often, we play it safe.

It’s easier to say something behind your back than stand up and tell you that you have proverbial spinach in your teeth. It’s much easier to assume, “someone else will tell them” or “they must already know.”

Spinach is safe. Blind spots are dangerous. 

Telling someone about their blindspot is always a risk. There’s a risk that it will bruise them (it probably will). There’s a risk it will be uncomfortable (it almost always is). There’s a risk that by disrupting the status quo, you will lose influence. 

This is why we play it safe.

There are others (you may know them as a DISC D or C, Enneagram 8 or 1, disruptive, Myers Briggs NTs, etc) who are willing to say what is true. This group may speak the truth too often. The truth may set you free, or it may get you put in a corner.

When do you say what is true at the risk of your own influence?

When do you preserve your influence at the risk of the greater good?

If you lean towards the truth, consider asking these four questions first.

Four truth-telling questions

1. It might be true, but is it helpful?

 Is the hearer going to benefit from this truth? Are they going to be able to do something with it?

2. It might be true, but is it urgent? 

Can it wait? Will you have more clarity in a day? Saying something to get it off your chest may not be helping anybody but you. You might serve people best by keeping it on your chest for a bit longer. 

3. It might be true, but is it for selfish gain?

This is the trickiest to spot in the mirror. Is your honesty (honestly) for your gain? What do you have to gain by illuminating what you have uncovered? Name it. Then, be cautious about it. 

4. It might be true, but is it honoring?

Everybody has faults. Everybody makes mistakes. Is your truth honoring the person? Are you singling out their behavior, or them as a person? Are you identifying an action, or their identity? 

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