I went to grab one of my favorite coffee cups this morning and the handle felt strange, like it was “gloppy”, sticky or hadn’t been cleaned well. I mindlessly rubbed it for a second and it became clear quickly that this was more than a little incomplete washing. I observed more carefully (challenging to do since I was still anticipating my first cup of morning coffee), and it became obvious that the handle was actually collected fragments glued together. 😦 Someone had broken the cup handle, decided not to tell me, and instead glued the evidence back together – I suppose in the hope that I wouldn’t notice? Fat chance! (My friends know I have a bit of a mug fetish…)
This situation reminded me of an “ice breaker” question I once heard… if you were at a friend’s house and the toilet wouldn’t flush after you were in the bathroom, would you tell the host/hostess, or would you try to slip out unobserved and not go through the shame of admitting the fact… and the need for help?
I was greatly surprised at how many people responded that they would be too em-barrassed to tell the truth! As a homeowner with the gift of hospitality who has LOTS of people in her home ALL the time… I can tell you, I WANT TO KNOW if my toilet isn’t functioning!! I want to be able to fix it and not have the problem get worse with time (no more detail needed, right?).
I also WANT to know if someone broke my mug… not because I really care that much; I just greatly prefer knowing to being surprised by the fact when I groggily reach for my mug in the morning.
I realize that in order to encourage people to tell me the truth, I need to respond correctly when they do… and it is much easier to respond well to a broken mug or a malfunctioning toilet than to respond well to an observed character flaw or an opposing opinion or a poor performance review. It is my responsibility to aggressively invite truthful feedback and appropriately consider what they say… This isn’t always easy, and I want to grow in this area. My reaction to the truth will greatly affect whether people follow through and tell me the truth when I ask for it.
Help me learn more… Do you prefer to hear the truth? What helps you respond well when someone “gives it to you straight”?