Honesty and open communication are two vital ingredients to good communication. As leaders, these qualities are essential to building any type of healthy business –or personal – relationship, and they go a long way toward developing a flourishing business culture.
What exactly do we mean by honest and open communication? One way to look at it is illustrated in the following story:
According to The Wichita Eagle, an unemployed man was sitting along the interstate and noticed a wallet lying in the highway. He waited for a break in traffic to grab the wallet and then turned it in to local police. When the owner had his wallet returned, he was overwhelmed by the honest act of a total stranger. The Good Samaritan refused a cash award. The owner of the wallet was so impressed; he committed himself to helping his new friend find a job. He communicated openly with companies in the area about the qualities of his friend, who had three offers within days. Local companies jumped at the chance to hire an honest person with strong values.
In this story, both the Good Samaritan and wallet owner showed they were honest people trying to do the right thing. If we apply this principle to the workplace, we can make great strides in fostering positive relationships between managers and employees and co-workers.
Honesty. More than just telling the truth, honesty is about telling the full story—a story that’s free of the emotional manipulation of half- or partial-truths. Honesty is about facts and objective observations. It’s also about sharing feelings and opinions that are based on those facts, even if our views are unpopular.
Open communication. It’s all about participation and accessibility, as well as freely sharing information. Open communication works best if the recipient is willing to receive information in turn—regardless of how difficult the topic. When we have open communication in a company, managers provide direction instead of scolding, and freely offer ongoing positive feedback so employees continue with the same positive behaviors.
Oftentimes, when we pair honesty with open communication, we might struggle a bit because honest feedback can be hard to give or receive. But, it is worth the hard work. Besides building trust, honesty and open communication perpetuate respect for fellow coworkers, superiors, and customers, and help build healthy teams that outperform competitors.
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