Most of us hate hearing the truth. After a workshop, a lot of participants give feedback. I enjoy their ‘truthful’ feedback – when it involves nice things about me as a trainer and the workshop. But if the ‘truth’ is even slightly negative, my eyes cringe, my head involuntarily starts telling me this person doesn’t know anything.
Most celebrities, politicians & high achievers start losing the plot because they have a coterie of yes-men around them. People who don’t tell them the truth because they are scared of the consequences. This often leads to their downfall as they start believing what they want to believe, which may be far from the on ground realities.
Leaders & Professionals who produce great results in the long run often encourage their Inner Circle to contradict them and tell them things as they are. Hearing & knowing the truth in the right spirit is a key factor to one’s professional success. Here’s how we can get started:
Step 1: Ask people the truth
Encourage people to tell you the truth about yourself. If they say something nice, great – but encourage them to tell you the negative & the improvement areas. People love giving opinions and will give enough if you ask with an open mind. Appreciate your truth tellers for being honest with you.
Step 2: Having the gumption to LISTEN to the truth
This, most of us can’t handle. Listening to the truth when it’s not nice-sounding. We run away from it. We counter people’s opinions with justifications instead of just listening. Tell ourselves it’s not true. Get defensive. All of this instead of listening and probing for more feedback.
Step 3: How to use the Truth?
The problem is there is no one truth. It often is an opinion/interpretation which is highly subjective. If 3 people report to Manager – each will have a different truth [opinion/feedback] about the Manager which in their mind is the absolute truth.
If the manager wants to improve her performance, it’s important she heeds their feedback and starts dealing with each one slightly differently based on how they see the truth.
Is the people’s truth always accurate? Not at all. But remember that you are using their truth to improve. To make necessary modifications & become a better professional. People are entitled to have opinions. In the end, you need to try to do as much of an impartial assessment of yourself based on the people’s “truth”. Then take the required improvement action, because you know your situation best – they do NOT. Use the truth as others see it, don’t be a slave to it. Make it your slave.
The higher you go the more risk you have of not hearing the truth or dismissing it. Nothing stops you more from hearing the truth than success. That’s why very few people last at the top. For your own sustained success, stop doing that. Trust me it’s never too late to start hearing the truth about yourself.
Swapnil Kamat is one of India’s leading Training Consultants and heads Work Better India. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org