When Telling The Truth Is A Difficult Thing
There will be times when you are not able to give someone the full picture and when it is prudent to communicate a message that just holds the current position.
For instance, if the organisation that you work for has either purchased, or acquired, another business or if the reverse has happened and your organisation is now part of a different organisation. Delicate personnel-related matters also need careful handling and a response to a direct question that is, for the moment, better left vague.
Part of a manager’s role is to be honest and forthright but there will be times when an element of “spin” is needed, something that requires some skill.
The following strategies should help:
- Redirect the conversation to something where you feel more comfortable and are able to give a valid and well-structured response.
- Avoid being over-defensive in your conversation: pay particular attention to your body language in these circumstances.
- If in any doubt about the circumstances, what you are able to say and what the corporate line might be state that you are not able to add anything further or provide more detail. Phrases such as “the situation is fast-moving”, “I should be able to tell you more tomorrow/in the next few days/next week” give you some breathing space and allows for some more reflection and consideration before giving out more information.
- Always show that you understand and appreciate the concern or the question: this is important in showing that you appreciate, and value, transparency.
A particularly challenging set of circumstances are often made ten times worse by communicating too much sensitive and fast-moving details at the wrong time – far better to “spin” and put a block on saying too much!
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