The Gift of Truth

About 5 months ago I was asked to sit in on an interview for my client.  I enjoy interviewing people.  Finding out the candidates story.  Figuring out if they have the required skill set and if they are a cultural fit.  In general, meeting new people and hopefully finding a great addition to the relevant team. In this particular instance we were building a recruiting team and looking for a strong addition.   The woman we were interviewing had a strong resume.  Unfortunately her interview did not follow suit.  She seemed somewhat scattered, not sure of herself or why she wanted the job, and could not articulate the potential value she could bring.  At the end of the interview when asked if she had any questions, she asked, “So do you think you will consider me for this job?”  I looked to my interviewing partner…she looked stunned at the question.  It was an uncomfortable moment.  Why?  Because the answer to her question was no.  

I had a choice that many of us face everyday.  Tell the truth or take the easy road, avoid “hurting feelings”, ease my own discomfort…and lie.  Just a little white lie, right?  Wrong.  In these moments we often lie because we think we are doing the person a favor or sparing them some level of heartache.  But, we are missing an opportunity to Give the Gift of Truth.  We are actually failing them.  Let’s explore what I am saying.

In Leadership…

I can not tell you how often I sit with managers/leaders who want to spend time complaining about an employees attitude or performance.  It is usually in the first 3-4 minutes that I will simply ask, “Have you told the employee how you are feeling or where they need to improve.”  It is shocking to me how often the answer is “no”.  The reasons vary but usually fall under the umbrella of not wanting to be hard on the employee, they don’t like conflict or they don’t know how to approach the employee.  It’s then I usually throw out one of my more common lines in coaching people…

“You can’t hold someone accountable for that which they are unaware.”

Which in return means you should not be spending a whole lot of time complaining about the person to another person as well.  So much wasted time and energy.

I then go to explain the Gift of Truth in terms of giving the employee feedback that they may never have heard.  Giving them a road map to improvement.  And, I make sure they understand that I am not suggesting it will be an easy conversation.   It may seem as if the recipient is unwilling to receive the truth.  I whisper, “They may not seem like they are listening but they hear you.”

This, with out a doubt, is one of the biggest areas of opportunity in people wanting to become great leaders.

In Life…

I want my wife to be my “biggest fan”.  In order to fully be that, I need my wife to be my “biggest critique”. I need her to give me doses of truth. I may not always like what she has to say.  As a matter of fact, I will defend, argue, and seemingly stand my ground.  But, I hear her and often times in my own quiet time (with a 2 and 3 year old at home this is usually at about 2 or 3 a.m.). I will reflect on what she has said and often tweak my approach, how I act, what I say, etc..  Again, if she does not tell me these things I would never have the opportunity or insight to even attempt to improve.  Thus, a gift.

You follow me, right?

A few things to note:

1.) This is not permission to be a jerk or leverage to simply speak your mind…see number 2.

2.) You must have the right intent.  Intent to help the person evolve.  Intent to better align with the person.  Intent to help the person advance in their career.  NOT the intent to knock down, ridicule, make yourself feel better or just be “right”.

3.)  If you have the right intent then usually the right approach will follow.  People can feel your authenticity in having their best interest when approached correctly.  Approach is everything here…tone of your voice, body language and yes, the words you choose.

4.)  Expect resistance and stay the course.  I used to lead a group of mentors of teenagers and would tell them, “You may never know the impact you have on these young people but do right by them anyway and find gratification in knowing you are planting seeds”.  Again, these normally are not easy conversations to have.  But, with the right intent and approach I can assure you that most will reflect on your message when they are alone.  How many times have you heard difficult feedback and responded defensivelly only to reflect later?

5.)  Not all will reflect on your feedback and surely not all will attempt to improve.  But, at least you have done the right thing.

6.)  While I am focusing on “hard conversations”,  the Gift of Truth can often be accolades left unsaid.  Remember my post Got Something to Say….

Ready to start giving?  Marinate on this for a few days.  Who have you been withholding the truth from?  Do you truly have their best interest?  Are you wanting to align with this person in a deeper way?  If you can answer yes to these questions then it is time to change the way you approach perceived “hard conversations” and become a more impactful leader, a better friend, and a more engaged loved one.

By the way, I told the woman I was interviewing the truth.  No, I would not consider her for the position. But I also told her why…specifically.  I approached it with the right intent and offered follow up.  She cried.  Talk about discomfort.  Later that day I received an e-mail and a LinkedIn invite from her thanking me for the candid feedback.  She actually agreed with my feedback and wanted to work on improving.  She shared some personal insecurities and thanked me for pointing out what none ever had…not even the recruiter that was coaching her for the interview.  My hope is that despite the uncomfortableness of the moment and the fact that I will probably never see this woman again, that my Gift of Truth made a difference.

Stay True,


PS…Our platform is still growing…we surpassed 13,000 hits!  Please share this blog, get people to sign up and more than anything, marinate on the content and take action.

Get Ted's Truth sent to your e-mail inbox! Click here to sign up.


  1. Enjoying the insight, living is learning. Crazy after so many years you have embraced your gift. Looking forward to the next lesson.

  2. Yes, sometimes the truth hurts, but it is in that hurt that we are able to grow and evolve.

Comments are closed.