At the risk of discussing older material, and being somewhat humbled by
the turmoil caused by my recent misinterpreted post on list observers, I
feel a sudden compulsion to take up the discussion offered by
Joan Pomo<email@example.com> raises the issue of honesty:
>...Many people act dishonestly in order to save their jobs.
>Every case I am aware of (hundreds), dishonesty aided no one
>and only resulted in hurting the person(s) who did the lying.
>Other views? Joan
Gary Scherl, GSCHERL@fed.ism.ca then added a thought-provoking example:
>... If you truly believe in the value of honesty, and you're walking down
>a deserted beach and see a beautiful rolidex watch half submerged in
>the sand, do you pick up and keep it? If you live and act conguently
>with your value of honesty - No! That would be dishonest -- it's not
>yours and you know it! You leave the rolidex there and let someone
>else pick it up and keep it!
>How many of us really act congruent with our values? How many
>actually recognize our values?
Then Dr Ilfryn Price <firstname.lastname@example.org> relates a
personal experience with honesty on flextime in a related thread:
>... As a
>matter of record most were even then working longer hours than the
>official nine-to-five and any form of official time keeping had withered
>years previously. However I gave official sanction to the de facto reality
>of flexitime; something to which the director of research had stated many
>times his vehement opposition. By writing down one unwritten rule I broke
>another and regardless of espoused policies on results and new cultures,
>the overriding unwritten rule, as in so many companies, was 'don't make
>the boss wrong'.
>I was moved sideways [booted out] or even downwards for which BTW I now
>have no regrets. I am in a wealthier place because of it and have learnt
>more than I could ever have done if it hadn't happened, but that is not
All this discussion highlights the dilemma with honesty and values. Often,
we are chastised for being honest, if not punished as in Dr. Price's
personal example. He was guilty of "calling a spade a spade" when the
"boss" did not want any spades!
So we do have a constant balancing act between what we really believe and
what the people around us want to hear, or are prepared to hear. In Gary's
example of the Rolex, I suspect there are many apparently honest actions
in addition to walking by the watch in the sand, as he suggests. Life
presents opportunites and our actions need to be tailored to the
situation, the readiness of the people to accept our actions or even our
role in the actions.
There are few absolute truths, yet honesty implies adhering to some notion
of universally-accepted truth. In dealing with the multitudes of
decision-makers, we are constantly forced into a balancing act.
If we behave the same way regardless of the audience, we will be thought
of as inflexible, if not arrogant, or perhaps not a team player. As we
deal with different societies, we discover the shades of what truth might
mean in Japan versus the United States versus Mexico. When someone says
they will do something that we have just requested, we need to adjust our
expectations to the society or venue of the request. Otherwise, we will be
I encountered a salesman who had just lost an order for a new system
because he told the prospect EXACTLY what was involved in the
implementation, and the prospect was scared into the hands of a more
understanding competitor. The salesman was not only absolutely right but
the competitor had much more trouble implementing than the salesman would
have. Sometimes it is necessary to tell the truth but not the whole truth,
at least not until the audience is ready for it! Comments? ....Keith (who
has been 'lurking' for a week now...)
Keith Cowan <72212.51@CompuServe.COM>
Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <email@example.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>