The Power of Honesty
Kathleen Kelley Reardon is Professor Emerita of Management at University of Southern California Marshall School of Business.
She earned her Ph.D. summa cum laude and with distinction at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst after receiving her BA degree with honors from University of Connecticut at Storrs. Kathleen is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi and Mortar Board.
Her primary areas of scholarly interest have been leadership communication, persuasion, politics in the workplace, negotiation and interpersonal communication. Public Opinion Quarterly described her first book, Persuasion in Practice, as a landmark contribution to the field.
Kathleen has taught negotiation, leadership and politics in the MBA, Executive MBA, and International MBA. For 15 years, she served on the USC Preventive Medicine faculty, developing interventions aimed at changing health habits among high-risk populations. She also served as associate director with Warren Bennis of the USC Leadership Institute.
She has authored 10 books and numerous articles, including three for The Harvard Business Review. Her 2001 book The Secret Handshake: Mastering the Politics of the Business Inner Circle (Currency, Doubleday) became an Amazon.com nonfiction and business best seller. It was followed by The Skilled Negotiator (Jossey-Bass, 2004), It’s All Politics: Winning in a World Where Hard Work and Talent Aren’t Enough (Currency, Doubleday, 2005), Childhood Denied: Ending the Nightmare of Child Abuse and Neglect (Sage, 2008), and Comebacks at Work: Using Conversation to Master Confrontation (Harper Business, 2010).
Her first novel, Shadow Campus, is an inside look at the politics of academia, a mystery-thriller and a love story. Forbes described it as a “masterful debut.” The sequel is underway for publication in 2015.
Kathleen was awarded the 2013 Humanitarian Award by the University of Connecticut Alumni Association based on her contributions to underserved groups, especially in originating and working to develop college prep academies for foster teens (www.firststar.org).
Kathleen is a signature blogger at Huffington Post (since 2005) and also blogs at her website (www.kathleenkelleyreardon.com).
An important difference between persuasion and manipulation is that persuasion is done with people and manipulation is done to them. Like all dishonest people, manipulators habitually underestimate the people they attempt to outmaneuver. They overestimate their own skill at deception. And, once discovered, the relational cost is usually high.
Over the long term, in most organizations the cost of lying is also a harsh one. While honest people accumulate trust credits, in credibility terms liars and deceivers head for bankruptcy. Why is it, then, that for many people the path of honesty appears so much more treacherous than the road of deceit?
As cognitive misers (which most people indeed are), we tend to take the path of least resistance, the one that allows us to exert as little thought effort as possible. Moreover, several generations of Americans have been coached via celebrity-style news and political media coverage, television sitcoms, reality shows, to say nothing of friends and acquaintances who seem to get away with it, that lying is an effective form of behavior and honesty is only for suckers.
Honesty suffers further by association with – when not an excuse for – uttering such harsh statements as “Yes, you do look fat in that outfit” and “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve heard today.”
Between such flagrant violations of civility and lying, though, there exists a wide range of largely overlooked options for being honest at many crucial and even everyday points of our lives. The more we use the range, the wider and more accessible it becomes – and vice versa.
Aside from this and the moral upside of having honesty as a front line rather than back burner communication strategy, it’s “money in the bank” in terms of one’s personal and professional reputation. While it doesn’t always pay instant rewards, honesty enables people to have conviction on their side. And personal conviction is a powerful persuasive tool. When you believe what you’re saying, it shows in every fiber of your being.
Granted, it’s one thing to desire to be an honest person -- and quite another to put in the hard work it takes to become “good” at it. Parents and teachers counsel children to count to five or more before they say anything when angry. Why don’t we train them (and ourselves) to slow-count before engaging in dishonesty? For those who’ve become habitual liars, the task is a formidable one – but a turnaround is not impossible.
Often increased honesty is simply a matter of stopping yourself, closing your mouth and saying nothing. As Archie Bunker would say: “Stifle!” If stifling a lie makes you appear at fault, guilty, or disinterested, then using a phrase like one of these could prove helpful:
“I want to be very clear about this, so I need a minute to think how to say it,”
“You know I’m not the worlds’ best communicator, so give me a moment before I say this,”
“I could just blurt out my first thought, but that won’t get us anywhere.”
Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.
- There's more than one way to make a black hole, says NASA's Michelle Thaller. They're not always formed from dead stars. For example, there are teeny tiny black holes all around us, the result of high-energy cosmic rays slamming into our atmosphere with enough force to cram matter together so densely that no light can escape.
- CERN is trying to create artificial black holes right now, but don't worry, it's not dangerous. Scientists there are attempting to smash two particles together with such intensity that it creates a black hole that would live for just a millionth of a second.
- Thaller uses a brilliant analogy involving a rubber sheet, a marble, and an elephant to explain why different black holes have varying densities. Watch and learn!
- Bonus fact: If the Earth became a black hole, it would be crushed to the size of a ping-pong ball.
Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.
In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.
- The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
- Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
- Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.