Sometimes, the truth is a pig.
Insisting that it wears lipstick, and then gushing over what a gorgeous shade those lips are, without acknowledging that they’re attached to a stinking pig, doesn’t change the fact that the truth is going to make a big ugly mess in your house.
Ha, ha, right?
Take a look at your organization. What do people there do when confronted with the truth? Usually, there’s a little more lipstick involved then people want to acknowledge…
Here are seven things you might hear if you’re in a culture of pig avoidance:
- “We need to get our team to realize that we’re bad at this, but can we make it sound like we’re good at something else at the same time so they don’t freak out?”
- “OK, I think I hear what you’re saying, but before I respond, can I give you some feedback on the way you deliver feedback?”
- “Nobody knows me better than me, so with all due respect, I just think you’re wrong about me.”
- “It offends me that you’d even think I could be intimidating to anyone. There’s no way, because that’s never my intention. You know that, right? Answer me: you know that, right?!”
- “No, it’s great. Really. I’ll get right on it. Woohoo, ya know?”
- “I’ve never worked with a stronger team… truly, highest marks across the board. Which is why, even though we’ve been in the red the last three years in a row…”
- “I know… but what I’m worried about is, while I’m big enough to deal with it, I’m worried that some of my coworkers won’t be as understanding. I don’t want to see you get hurt is all.”
These statements are evidence that someone is trying to avoid discussing the pig. That’s bad. That leaves you’re at the mercy of this unspoken reality—this thing you have to live with but can’t talk about. Good luck with that! At least when you acknowledge the pig, you can get it penned and cleaned up. You can call out the mess it’s made and clean the mess up, too.
Changing a culture of pig avoidance takes nothing more than the courage to be honest, direct, and clear. Unfortunately, if you don’t already have that courage, or if your organization has beaten that out of you, then it’s also going to take leadership and involvement from the highest level of the organization to turn things around.
In the meantime, watch your step: you have a pig on the loose.
Jason Seiden is CEO of Ajax Workforce Marketing. Ajax amplifies brands by aligning employees' online messaging.