I once coached the president of a corporation who repeatedly told me how honest he was with everyone. The story I got from his staff and colleagues, however, was radically different. They described him as "not open," "untrustworthy," "disingenuous" and "lacking in integrity" -- pretty harsh -- and honest -- criticism.
When I shared this feedback with my client, I could tell by the look on his face that such frankness hurt, especially when it came from people he considered friends. But he quickly recovered from the sting of honesty and said, "How do I fix this?"
We talked about candor, truth and honesty -- all qualities that this executive has spent years evading. I taught him how to tell the truth about what was happening in the company, and how to tell people the truth about their performance. I showed him how to express criticism in an honest, but empathetic way. My client soon began to realize the value of being truthful with people and quickly erased his old reputation. He went on to become one of the best leaders in the company once he learned the importance of being straight with people.
Every time we withhold or twist the truth, we destroy trust. Every time we tell people the truth, even if it is something they don't want to hear, we build trust.