Fall typically marks the start of planning and budgeting season, as well as year-end performance reviews. This means we find ourselves in numerous meetings, conference calls, Skype sessions, etc.

For many of us, these meetings can be stressful. Money and titles are on the line. We all want positive performance reviews. We all want our strategic ideas embraced. We all want our budgets fully funded. And we all want our salaries raised.

To help with the stress of these meetings, I have a suggestion: Try using a communication technique called “Talk Straight.”

I reviewed this concept earlier this fall during a communication training workshop I hosted with a Vistage group in the Toledo, Ohio area. Talk Straight comes from Stephen M.R. Covey’s fabulous book, The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything. Covey says Talk Straight consists of two key elements: Telling the truth and leaving the right impression.

Spaulding Communications President and Founder Matt Spaulding (right) and Vistage Chair Matt Lauth during a Vistage presentation earlier this year in Toledo, Ohio. Spaulding discussed the concept of Talk Straight during his “Chaos to Clarity” presentation to the group.

Telling the Truth – This sounds so simple, right? Of course! But in actual practice, telling the whole truth all the time, every time can be hard. Why? Let’s count the reasons. Maybe we made a mistake and we don’t want to fully admit it to our boss, client or colleague. Maybe we don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. Maybe we’re afraid that telling the truth will not get us what we want, such as that pay raise or new title. Instead, in order to protect ourselves or avoid discomfort, we tell “white lies.” Or we tell only part of the truth. Or we even flat-out lie.

Leaving the Right Impression – This can be even more challenging than telling the truth. There are only a few things worse than leaving the wrong impression (such as not telling the truth!). Think about it. How often have you had a conversation with someone, fully thinking you had clearly communicated your expectations? Days later you find out the other person had a completely different view of the conversation. Leaving the right impression requires telling the truth and using clear, concise language. It also requires active listening and follow up to ensure you understand what the other person is saying, feeling and expecting.

We all know the consequences when we don’t tell the truth. Your trustworthiness deteriorates and your personal brand suffers. What’s more, the effort required to “clean” things up after not telling the truth or leaving the wrong impression requires A LOT of time and energy — not to mention more unneeded stress!

As you go into your year-end planning meetings or performance appraisals, be committed to the notion of Talk Straight.

Doing this – telling the truth and leaving the right impression – can be hard. It requires practice, discipline and even courage.

But, there’s no doubt you will feel better because of it. And you’ll be bringing clarity to stressful situations.

If your team or your organization is interested in learning more about this concept or other interpersonal communication strategies, feel free to reach out to me directly.

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