Veracity was described in the book as the habitual pursuit of, and adherence to truth… even when it hurts; actually, more so when it hurts. The book points out two specific abilities necessary to get into that habit: hearing down and speaking up (where down and up just refers to work hierarchy, not to our value as people).
To appreciate both, we must learn to shift our perspective of hard truths or negative comments. No matter how negative, oftentimes, there’s an underlying positive intent. For instance, in our office we have this co-worker who has this reputation of being such a whiner. But behind that, if only he’d learn to express himself better, what he is actually after is a positive change. To those who need to speak up, hard truths must be raised in a way that doesn’t incite the other person to jump the gun and feel like his identity is being attacked. To those who need to hear down, hard truths are not always attacks to our identity. We deter potential improvements if we immediately close our minds to what others have to say, and if we strike a feeling of pointlessness or fear in the hearts of others instead of encouraging them to exchange ideas or feedback.
Between hearing down and speaking up, I personally have great difficulty with the latter. I’m not sure if it’s the culture or the upbringing, as much as I try to break out of the habit, keeping mum is one of my more natural inclinations. The book shares three steps to keep minds open when speaking up (you’d need at least one depending on your relationship with the other person):
- Establish permission — Just as you knock before entering, you establish permission before you speak up. You don’t want to come in uninvited.
- Make your intent clear — Instead of having others think the worst, just be outright with your intentions. You don’t want to be misinterpreted.
- Be candid — Just be straight to the point. But of course, exercise tact. You don’t want to bore people with details nor be rude.