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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Being a Jerk Vs. Being Brutally Honest

This is a follow-up on my last post regarding jerk removal :)

What tempted me to write this follow-up is my fear that some readers might misunderstand me and overdo it. The other extreme of being a jerk is being dishonest and we don't want that in our team. I have always subscribed to Patrick Lencioni's suggestion to be brutally honest when dealing with team mates. Now before you get any idea about being brutally honest, I suggest that you read my previous articles on the topics of teams and team building or read Patrick Lencioni's The Five Dysfunctions of A team. For this post, I'm attempting to distinguish between being a jerk and being brutally honest... at least in a healthy teambuilding sense..

There are a lot of benefits to having a team where team members can afford to be honest about what they think and what they feel. It helps the team detect problems early, it maximizes the brain power of the team, It improves team relationship in the long term, it improves commitment and it helps the team surge towards the achievement of its goals. People can only afford to be brutally honest if there is significant amount of trust in the team. When people are not afraid to tell their boss, they think the boss is mistaken or any other member for that matter. When a member can say to another member that he is upset with that other member because of what he did and the other person appreciated the honesty because they will be able to resolve the problem right away, that's not typical right? But it's an indication of a great team relationship. This is what you want to have. This is what you need. But Establishing this kind of relationship requires some rules or norms if you will.I'd like to call it honesty with respect. Because honesty without respect can lead to jerk-like behaviors. It reminds me of the three judges in a very popular Reality Show Singing Competition. They often all say that they are being constructive but they really are all in different levels. One of them is neither being honest or being a jerk. That's when she refuses to say that the performance sucked when it does in a sense. The other one, I'd say is quite honest and constructive about his opinion with suggestions that are quite helpful... If only we can understand when he means, dawgs. :) The last one, everyone's favorite, most often just puts down the performers. Was he honest? I guess. Was he being a jerk? In my humble opinion, Yes. Because his behaviors show all the symptoms - power trip, abusive tone and put downs like " I think you have no personality". Can you imagine that? You can probably guess who I'm talking about but what's more important is the fact that we can be honest without being jerks.

Why is this important, you might ask. Honesty in the team is important, it is the hallmark of trust and trust is the foundation of team effectiveness. The problem is, people often do not realize that they are being jerks in the guise of being honest or "constructive". In a way, we have all acted like jerks at one time or another, but there is a way to fix that. We need to agree on how we can be honest without being jerks. All it requires is for us to sit down together and discuss and then agree on what to do to keep communication flowing the right away.

Go ahead, try it.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous2:33 PM

    My jerk of a boss should read this.


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