Leadership Tip: Talk Straight


When was the last time you technically told the truth, but left a misleading impression?


Not every culture values straight talk. As a leader, it’s your judgment to understand your latitude. Straight talk can be delivered in respectful and honorable ways without ever diminishing someone’s reputation. The opposite of straight talk includes posturing, positioning, spinning, or technically telling the truth but leaving the wrong impression. Our ability to talk straight comes down to using clear, accurate, and simple language to ensure that what is said is what is heard and, perhaps most important, what is being heard is being understood.


Leaders who talk straight:


- Call things by their right names using common, plain language.
- Don’t spin or position for the sake of posturing.
- Tell the truth in diplomatic yet clear language.
- Don’t try to sound more intelligent than they are.


Leaders who talk straight leave their listeners clear about the intended message because there was nothing added to distract or confuse. No extra slides. No long effusive speeches. No multisyllable words to impress or intimidate. They don’t leave room for misinterpretation or guessing. They stay as far from spin as possible.


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