Crisis of Truthfulness in Business– Truth-Telling Without ‘Spin’– Lost Virtue in Workplaces: Lessons on Truthfulness from Islam…

Truthfulness is a critical building block for business success, and yet truth-telling is becoming a lost virtue in many workplaces. To be truthful means being honest, not deceitful or deceptive in everyday business engagements with– employees, customers, partnerships, suppliers, stakeholders… also, being truthful with yourself…

Being truthful is not always easy, since truth is not absolute and often it’s never black and white; it depends on the prevailing culture and the perspective of the participates… For some people truth-telling is very uncomfortable; it can create conflict, negative emotion that can have a very negative impact on workplace productivity… The reality is that businesses are less efficient, and prone to poor decisions when truth is systematically kept hidden… truthfulness can even be obscure with the ‘unspoken truths’ that most organization have– its mokita (a New Guinean word meaning; truth everybody knows but nobody speaks).

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Adapting a Biblical principle: The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off (quote: Gloria Steinem). Truthfulness is credibility, and it can easily be destroyed with just one simple untruth that’s told in a brief moment when you are; just trying to create a good impression, or deny involvement in an issue, or refuse to acknowledge that an incident had occurred…

Recall Aesop’s Fablesboy who cried wolf: The boy lied so many times about the wolf being after the sheep that when the wolf really did attack, none of the villagers responded to his cries for help. Hence, if you are not truthful at all times, then people will be suspicious about your truthfulness: The moral of this story is always (well almost always) tell the truth!

According to Annual Edelman Trust Barometer; Public trust in leaders has fallen substantially; leaders are not seen as leading. People think leaders– just can’t get around to telling truthThe crisis of leadership is leading people to having a very different view of who they take seriously and actually listen to: An online survey queried 31,000 people in 26 countries, and then broke down the results between the general population and smaller sample of university-educated, higher income people dubbed members of ‘informed public’.

Among ‘informed public’ group, 69% viewed– academics or experts as credible people, while 61% viewed ordinary people as credible (people like you)… CEOs lagged at 43% among this group. The most trusted business sector was technology, with a 77% credibility rate, while ‘banks and financial services’ trailed with 50%; just behind ‘news media’, which polled 53%…

According to Samuel A. Culbert; it’s time for corporate leaders to face the fact that they are the ones responsible for managing the culture of truth-telling in their workplaces… it’s time for leaders to understand that without careful vigilance for the truth, their companies can become a workplace of fear and intimidation… a workplace where truth is– only sometimes spoken and then only in the shadows… According to Laurie Weiss; it’s often difficult to find a balance between telling truths and protecting the feelings and reputations of everyone involved. Not only that, but honest well-intentioned people don’t always agree about what is the truth… 

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In the article Truth About Lying At Work by Lydia Dishman writes: Yes, admit it! You have called-in sick to work when you were not officially down with the flu, or some other contagious illness: It’s a common fib, especially when there are major sporting events… A global survey found that as many as 58% of employees call-in sick on days when they want to watch or attend a sporting event, even though 80% of them admit to feeling guilty for doing it.

According to a study; this simple kind of twisting the truth can cost organizations  8.7% of payroll each year. According to Jeffrey Pfeffer; telling a lie is incredibly common in many businesses, for example; there is so much lying on financial statements that Dodd-Frank was passed to get CEOs to attest to the truthfulness of their financial statements… and even more troubling, some of the best leaders are great at self-deception and the best liars… for some leaders truth-telling is almost impossible. It was Mark Twain who said; if you tell truth, you don’t have to remember anything, just remember what actually happened and what words were actually spoken, rather than trying to remember a made-up story or a distorted version…

In the article Spinning Truth by Mark S. Putnam writes: Somewhere between the truth and a lie, there’s ‘spin’… We hear about politicians spinning bad news in their favor. We see journalists and pundits spin news stories to reflect a certain point of view: It’s easy. You too can spin if you look at data, filter it through your biases, and preach it like gospel. The rationale is that it isn’t really lying, just putting a bias on what is already true…

Spinning is like any other kind of dishonesty, it’s wrong… It makes old-fashioned lying sound clever and trendy: It can be said that stupid people lie and smart people spin… For most people, it’s not so much about telling the big whopper lie as much as getting tangled in exaggerations and spins… Adding ‘spin’ to favor your side of a story doesn’t require much premeditation, in fact it may seem perfectly natural to talk fast and spin your response when your back is against the wall. Besides spin is not a real lie, because if you get caught you can always back out, spin some more or stand by the original spin and just say it’s a personal ‘opinion’…

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In the Be Open and Truthful by Cindy King writes: In a business, it’s not always easy to understand truthfulness in the context of cross-cultural international business relationships… Most people thinks of being open and truthful, but when dealing with many cross-cultural communication you must look a little closer… it’s easy to realize that different cultures have different interpretations and different ways of being open and truthful. There are many factors that come into play, for example; there are cultural taboos, which can be both direct and indirect communication… Cultures have different boundaries for what they consider as truthful:  Some accept distorted versions of the facts, while others do not.

Some cultures can accept to– avoid the real issue and still consider they are truthful, while others consider this as untruthful… Even when you strive to be truthful there will always be circumstances to challenge your own definitions. When this happens, it can become a personal exercise for understanding and developing stronger cross-cultural skills. The question of how truthful you are perceived by other cultures is vital to your international success. Being truthful and trustworthy are part of the core of business basics… And, If you are not perceived as being truthful then you lose trust, which means that nobody will do business with a company or person that they cannot trustHence, be aware of how your truthfulness is being perceived…

Most people hate being lied to and you would like to think that any information given to you is truthful. In a survey in Germany, the vast majority of responders felt– lying on minor issues to protect oneself or to protect others from harm is permissible and, in some cases, even necessary so that people get along with one another. And, a journalist wrote: to tell the truth and only the truth at all times is a noble ideal but, boring…

Could it be that you prefer other people speak truth, and yet, at times, you eel that you have good reason not to speak the truth? Does it matter whether you tell the truth or not? But, why do people have the tendency to lie? ‘Greed’; its selfish ambition that is still very much the motivation that impels some people to lie…  Also, ‘Fear’; fear of consequences or of what others may think, if the truth is told… is probably the biggest reason for lying in the workplace…

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Many businesses create an atmosphere that discourages people from ‘telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth’… As a result, many bad decisions are made, not because of the information provided to leaders but because of information withheld for fear of retribution. Fear of the truth usually emerges when leaders have a ‘arrogance of knowledge’ or, conversely, when less than competent leaders dread exposure of deficiency, or the natural strata of a bureaucracy often appear designed to entomb the truth…

The reality is that businesses are less efficient, prone to poor decisions when truth is systematically kept hidden… According to Ron Ashkenas; showing customers or partners what’s truly behind the curtain could undermine credibility and threaten the deal. The wiser course in many cases is to limit the truth and figure out how to ‘deliver’ it later… It’s easy to be judgmental about all these situations and to insist on absolute truth at all times, but people don’t work that way, and neither do organizations. As managers, the best you can do is to be more aware of why you avoid or shade the truth — and make sure that it’s an appropriate time to do so…

Islam and The Truth On Truthfulness (summarized and paraphrased): Truthfulness comes at the top of the list of morals and Allah considered it to be the foundation for all principles. Truthfulness, besides being an honorable trait, is a necessity in all public lives and perhaps it’s the greatest gate to happiness of individuals and their entire communities. For example, when one wishes to make a purchase, they will look for a salesperson that is known for their honesty.

The most just and accurate scale of measuring a nation’s advancement is in the truthfulness of its people, whether in words or deeds. It’s a major crisis when trust is lost, and when people are dishonest in their dealings with one another. When this happens, lying spreads among the people – lying in words, deeds and intentions… Islam considers truthfulness as key to righteousness and lying as the key to evil… Lying is cowardliness, degradation and a transgression of boundaries… Beware of lying, even if it’s only once, as it will open the door widely for further lying: He who lies once will lose his position and trust in the eyes of the people…