Here’s What I’ve Learned: Professional “Real” Talk


“Nothing works unless we commit to really doing it right. It’s called life; it’s called success.”  


Most people can’t handle the truth. And honestly, too often people would rather surround themselves with enablers and cheerleaders to avoid facing it. This is a sad reality but a simple truth. And to be completely honest, how easy is it for us to accept the truths about ourselves? Ouch – does anyone need an icepack for their feet?

Let’s face it, the truth can really hurt sometimes and be hard to swallow let alone digest. But it’s not until we learn to face it that we are truly able & ready to fully embrace our best lives. Nothing changes until we do and nothing works unless we commit to really doing it right. In life, we cannot possess our “bests” until we’re prepared to both receive and live in the truth.

Now let’s get the foundation clearly established – as leaders we are typically in a position where we focus on and are more prepared to tell someone else the truth than to receive it. Agreed? With that being said, one of the first truths that we must face in these situations is that sometimes it’s what you say, sometimes it’s how you say it, sometimes it’s when you say it, and sometimes it’s a combination therein.

  • What You Say – Most of the people I’ve encountered in life didn’t intentionally seek to hurt others or do things wrong. However, there will always be outliers that don’t operate in integrity and aren’t trustworthy. Nonetheless, everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity and thus, what we say needs to be framed correctly. Prior to delivery, we should assess the “truth” by questioning: “Is it factual? Is it helpful? Is it required?” Emotion and personal agenda have no place in our messaging. Thus, what we say should lead towards improvement not merely compliance.
  • How You Say – Tone can change everything and even a simply “Hello” can change meaning and receptivity simply by “how” it’s said. And it’s not just our verbal communication but also our nonverbal ques or body language that can speak volumes. “Yes, I’m listening and really desire to hear your feedback.” Sounds like a great statement, right? But my folded arms, typing while speaking with you, cold stare, etc. would create a different image for the receiver. If the truth is important to communicate then it’s important to package it properly. Everyone’s palate is different; thus, how I communicate with one individual might be completely different than with another. However, one thing remains the same: serving a gourmet meal on a dirty plate taints the entire dining experience for anyone. Just keep the goal of the communication in mind – at the end of the day the ultimate objective is success.
  • When You Say – The right thing said at the wrong time is still the wrong thing. Even if it has to be addressed, it’s called timing and sometimes poor timing can change great communication into a great misunderstanding. Ask, “Is this a conversation that needs to be had face-to-face, in a group setting or individually, immediately or after a period of time has occurred?” Choosing the proper time is half of the battle. So don’t be anxious yet assess the right time, location, and format. Sometimes you have to wait, breathe, and then prepare for implementation.

Please know that even with such good communication practices in place, sometimes the message will simply not be well received. But remember that you are not responsible for the response, only for your delivery.

As leaders, we must endeavor to lead well and by example. And even in difficult situations, we must remain focused on our culminating goal: Success = Mutual Respect + Integrity + Teamwork + Effective Communication + Order + Proper Focus + Positive Results + Purpose

If this is not the goal, what is it all for


© 2016 Kassandra McGhee


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