Honest or not honest, that IS the question!
My father used to tell me that I wear my heart on my sleeve. People know where they are with me and I always thought that was a good thing. Today I am starting to doubt this…
I am reading “Lila” by Robert Pirsig and he talks about the way the American Indian plains-people tend to speak from the heart, with no attempt to hide or wrap things up in clever or manipulative language. As a fan of assertive communication, I think this is brilliant: Just try to say exactly what you really feel and really mean. But Pirsig also adds that American Indian people choose well the moment to speak honestly… and I think this may be a weakness for me.
Example: My mother asked my years ago “How was dinner?” I replied “I enjoyed it thanks. I found the chicken a little dry, but with the sauce it was great”.
This was clearly a fault – I lacked some emotional intelligence – I needed to learn when to keep my mouth shut, not to criticise to quickly.
Today I am much better with such “affairs of the heart” (ask my wife!) …but when it comes to business I still seem to be constantly open and honest, even when I might lose out in the long run. Its not that I tend to criticise (like with my mother) but I always share what I am thinking, even when it might be in my own best interest to keep my mouth shut…
Example 1: Being the nice guy, I might make a price proposal, see that it is higher than expected and then immediately say “But I’m open to suggestions”
Example 2: I share constantly my ideas with people on how they could do their business better, even if they are in the same business as me.
Example 3: I try to make everyone happy first, rather than trying to win for myself first.
Example 4: I explain by email to a client WHY I did something differently than planned, thus opening the door for disagreement where my actions may have simply been accepted “as-is”.
In training on negotiation and collaboration, I help people understand how their attitude to working with other people has an impact on their relationships and results. We learn about the difference between a “blue attitude” and a “red attitude”:
When I was a younger trainer, I used to tell people that it was best to play WIN:WIN (blue). Now I don’t say such things. (First of all, I have a tendancy to get them to figure it out and decide for themselves, secondly ….) I would prefer to say that one needs to have a preference for WIN:WIN, but be aware and open to when it is time to be a little more “red”, notably when others are playing “red”.
And so, I think today that sometimes I should not be so nice, so open, so clear and direct. I can still value these things, but NOT DOING THEM ALL THE TIME is not equivalent to being not-nice, dishonest or indirect. Just discrete or less naive or strategic. (“Purple”, as Gavin Kennedy would say in “The New Negotiating Edge”).
What do you think?
Thanks for reading
Posted on March 15, 2012, in Communication, Self-Effectiveness and tagged Blue Read Purple, communication, Gavin Kennedy, Honest, Lila, negotiation, New Negotiating Edge, Philo-Psych, Robert Pirsig. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.