Encouraging Honesty On Your Team

On November 10th I heard Stephen Gaffeny speak at the monthly meeting of the Institute for Excellence in Sales.   Stephen is known as the "honesty expert".   In this talk, he was applying his ideas to sales prospects, but his tools are applicable to executives team and marriages as well.

Stephen said…

91% of people lie regularly.

The #1 reason people lie is that they don't feel emotional safety.

We started the event with an exercise called Notice vs. Imagine.  The goal of the exercise was to help the audience understand the difference between what we notice (the facts about the situation) what is in our mind (evaluations, judgements, opinions, feelings, etc.)   For example, "I notice that you are looking at your watch.   I assume that means you are not interested in what I am saying."  

Most people look for evidence of things that are consistent with their opinion.   Other people are inferring things about us all of the time, and since they don't voice their opinion, we don't get to provide feedback   What if there are things we can do to encourage honesty?   Stephen uses a pyramid of honesty to assist in measuring where we are in a relationship.   The goal is to help people move from shutdown to foreshadowing.

Honesty Pyramid.jpg


Below are 9 things you should do to encourage honesty.

  1. Assume you may be wrong and listen from a position you may be wrong.
  2. Assume there is more to the story.
  3. Don't let silence do the talking.
  4. People are trained and conditioned not to tell the truth, you need to retrain them.
  5. Proactively share what you think people might be imagining and ask them to confirm.
  6. Spend honest, quality, time with the other party.
  7. Establish the benefits of honest communication.
  8. Use open ended questions.
  9. Model the behavior you desire.

The next time you are disappointed by someone who avoids telling you the truth, ask yourself what can I do to encourage them to become more honest?