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What We're Reading Now

Have You Told Them?

3 December 2013

Allison read When the Truth Is Your Only Chance by Peter Bregman on the HBR Blog Network and appreciated a story that supports the importance of being thoughtfully candid.

Tags: allison read, communication, leadership, peter bregman, thoughtful candor

Last week our blog post was about words (that) matter at Allison Partners. Take a read and you’ll learn why we believe that using language deliberately is one of the most significant choices we make when communicating. You’ll also discover the meaning behind, “can’t count several,” and, “mental mind.” (These are two of the 16 different phrases you’ll find as you travel down the long hallway in our new office.)

As I read Peter Bregman’s latest HBR Blog Network post, When the Truth Is Your Only Chance, I found myself thinking about two more of the phrases on our wall, “have you told them, and “be thoughtfully candid.”

In his post, Bregman tells a story about Paul Franco* who was almost ready to quit a job he really enjoyed. Everything about the role was great expect one thing… his boss. ("*Names and some identifying details have been changed.")

'"He’s all over the place,” Paul told me. “Shifting from one vision to the next. He’s unfocused, unclear, unrealistic, and, most disturbingly, he’s burning bridges with potential investors as well as colleagues. He even reneged on a commitment he made to me, which I had already extended to other people. He’s hurting the business and I’m worried about my reputation by affiliation.'"

Bregman then proceeded to ask Paul a simple, but transformative question, “Have you told the CEO what you’ve told me?” As you might imagine, Paul’s answer was, “Not really. Not so clearly."

Every week in my work with our clients, I find myself asking, “Have you told them?” It’s takes a great deal of courage to say the hardest things to the most significant people in your life and you definitely want to be “thoughtfully candid” as you figure out how to give difficult feedback. However, more often than not, I find that my clients are glad they chose to do what Bregman encouraged Paul to do… “risk truth.” The next time I’m trying to help someone find the courage to do this, I will definitely have them read Bregman’s post both because it gives excellent advice about how to approach one of these conversations and has a very happy ending.


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