Sometimes, you may have the irresistible urge to hide your views, opinions and feelings from others. However, communication is far more complex than simply the words you use. Your inner thoughts and feelings can leak out in so many ways. You may be able to put on a good show, but often, other people can simply smell that something is wrong. As human beings, we are extremely well equipped to detect these subtle clues — albeit much of this is subconscious. The phrase “I smell a rat” springs to mind.
Despite this, attempting a cover-up is often a very attractive option, particularly if you are meeting with formidable characters, or those who you think would be upset by your true thoughts. And yes, sometimes it is prudent to do this, but you need to take care because of the risk of your real attitude being detected. If you say one thing and the other person thinks you may be thinking or feeling something different, one could say that they have caught you being untruthful. That could have a big impact on the extent to which trust survives within your relationship. And, if you want to be more influential, trust is essential — well, if you want enduring influence it is!
Whenever you notice the temptation to cover-up looming, consider…
- Why are you tempted to cover-up? How does this serve your objectives and does it stand up to reason?
- If you really do have to cover-up, how can you manage this in the most authentic way?
- What would happen if you were more open about your true thoughts? Again, are these consequences reasonable?
- If you were on the other side, what would you want to happen? Everyone seems to want to hear the truth even if it is painful, yet readily dodge being truthful when it risks upsetting others.
- What other options do you have apart from hiding your real thoughts? There is a world of difference between being respectfully honest and brutally frank!
- If you get caught out, what could the consequences be, short and long term? How would the relationship suffer? Okay, let’s be honest, does this really matter to you?
- Is dishonesty consistent with your own self-image and personal brand? Could this be a personal betrayal of your core values?
Maybe the last point is overloading it a little, but the main idea here is that there are consequences to the things we do, and if you want to build long-term, high-trust relationships, you will need to keep these things in mind to maximise your progress. It is surprising just how powerful it can be, giving people the bad news in a delicate and respectful way. The enhanced transparency and care can really accelerate the bond between you and also build loyalty — you might be surprised about the amount of truth people can take and, also, the benefit you will get from cultivating a more transparent approach. Is it time to clean up your act?