I’ve written before about the importance of telling the truth at work. For any number of reasons, people choose not to tell the truth. Under the guise of being polite, wanting to appear to be kind, or taking care of the other, people choose to not tell the truth. This just happened to me twice in the last couple of days and it bugged me.
In the first case, I was supposed to interview for a PM position to lead a large IT project. The interview was to start at 9:00am and sure enough, at 9:00 my phone rang. The women I was to interview with said hello and then said that she didn’t want to waste my time but the position had been offered to another candidate the previous day.
This, of course, was not great news and I was disappointed. OK, I was sad and angry. But what also bothered me was that she said she didn’t want to waste my time. In other words, she believed she needed to take care of me and watch out for my time, instead of letting me take care of my own needs and end the interview.
The truth of the matter was that she didn’t want to waste her time! That would have been a more truthful and direct communication. She stated it as if she were taking care of me but the truth was she did not want to invest any more of her time. So, to be more honest, she could have simply said, “I don’t want to spend any more time on this so let’s not have an interview this morning”. Or, “I don’t want to waste both of our time with an interview”.
The second case of not being quite truthful happened to me last night. I was talking with my friend on the phone and he said, “I don’t want to keep you any longer”. That may very well have been true. But like the previous example, it sounds like he believes that he needs to take care of me.
By take care of me, I mean that he is saying it as if I could not take care of myself. Like I am a hostage to him, and must remain on the phone until he tells me I can leave the call. This would be typical of someone who has poor emotional boundaries. In other words, if I have strong emotional boundaries, I don’t need anyone to take care of me, I can take care of myself. If I want to end the call, I can simply say, “I need to get going”. If, on the other hand, I had poor emotional boundaries, I might feel as if I needed someone to release me from the call. I would be afraid of upsetting the other person by telling the truth.
We have all heard this before, right? We have had people say to us, “I am going to let you go now” or “I want to respect your time”, or “I don’t want to keep you any longer”. What they are really saying is “I want to go now”. That is much more direct and truthful.
Why don’t we just tell the truth? For me, I appreciate it when someone is telling me the truth; I don’t want to be lied to or manipulated. I like directness and honesty much better than someone trying to make it sound as if they are acting in my best interest or taking care of me. Because the truth is, they are not taking care of me, they are trying to take care of themselves. Which is OK; just tell the truth about it.