An ongoing challenge managers in the workplace have is candid conversations. Given the power hierarchy, conversations tend to reinforce what others perceive the person in power wants to believe. Honesty is rarely there. Transparency is often cloudy. Discussions often follow a fictional script.
As bad as this is, experience suggests that the conversation anyone has with someone they think is more powerful follows a similar path. It seems dangerous to tell someone what s/he does not want to hear. It appears risky to contradict or challenge the accepted norm. It can be detrimental to one’s standing to be known to be holding a different view.
Conformity is safe. It works. It is often the foundation to getting ahead.
As I look back at individuals I have worked with over the years, I find myself admiring the ones that stood up for what they believed in. They were not always right. Neither was I. They did not always approach the problem logically. I am equally guilty. Yet, they stood up, had the conversation, and, as a result, we could see More.
Courageous people that saw themselves as part of a community have taken this risk across the generations. In one case, a prisoner asked a simple question with an obvious answer. In response, “when the centurion heard that, he went directly to the captain. ‘Do you realize what you’ve done? This man is a Roman citizen!’” (Acts 22.26) The crisis was averted. A new discussion began. An opportunity emerged.
Difficult news is easier to receive when one knows the person is consistently candid.
Obstacles are often better seen in the context of possible solutions.
Accepting the scope and magnitude of a crisis is possible when hope is present.
Today comes with an unwritten script. You and I will fill in the missing pieces. Some of our choices will be difficult. At times, the answer will not be obvious. Walking with Another will help. Seeing with our vision will make things more clear. Sharing the load, having an ongoing dialogue with our community, can make a real difference.