There’s one thing I know. I know that you want the people in your company to be honest with you. You want them to tell you what they think and you want to hear their opinions.

The challenge is almost no one, if anyone will ever really tell you what they think.


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There's one thing I know. I know that you want the people in your company to be honest with you. You want them to tell you what they think, and you want to hear their opinions.

You know, the challenge is almost no one, if anyone, will ever really tell you what they think. They usually are saying things to themselves like,

"I can't tell the boss what I really think. If I do, I'll get fired."

"Why should I tell the boss what I think? They never listen."

"There isn't much upside to telling the boss what I think. I'll either get fired or yelled at." And:

"If the boss, if I tell the boss what I think, all that's going to happen is I'll get yelled at. Or I'll get ignored. Most likely ignored, probably not yelled at."

So for an awful lot of business owners, it takes a true reorganization of how they think and act before any of their employees becomes brave enough to tell the boss what they really think.

Hi, this is Josh Patrick. And today we're going to talk about what it takes for your employees to start telling you the truth, and not what they think you want to hear from them.

But the challenge is, no one comes to your company without having experiences at different companies and growing up in different situations, and having different experiences while going to school. They've been given the message loud and clear that their superiors, whatever that means, teachers, bosses, parents, aren't really interested in their opinion.

This belief could be very frustrating for you. Even if you're the best listener and have a culture where honesty is valued, new employees will take a long time before they believe what you're selling.

You probably, and I agree that it's very frustrating when the people who work with us won't tell us what they're really thinking. After all, it's their future, as well as yours. And I know how important it is for you to get honest feedback from your staff. I'm sure the people who work with me don't always tell me what they think, especially if they believe they'll get pushback from me.

And the truth is, when I push back, I don't push back gently or slowly. I'm pretty aggressive about how I push back. As much as I try not to be, it's just that, you know, if you have an idea and you want me to do something and I disagree with it, I'm fine with you disagreeing with me.

But what I really want you to do is I want you to come prepared to tell me why what you're thinking is correct and what I'm thinking is incorrect. And I just know how incredibly difficult that is for employees to do. And you should too.

But at the same time, I've developed a few methods of getting real thoughts out of the folks who work with me.

  1. Number one. First, you need to take a long hard look at your body language. You can't sit there and go like this and scowl at the people as they're talking to you. Nobody is going to tell you the truth when you do that. What you might want to do, even, is look at the body language that your employees or your staff members are using with you. Match that body language. And as time goes, open up your body language and what you're going to find, they'll do the same.

  2. Number two. Next, make sure you tell the person you're talking with what you're noticing. If the person there is being closed and not being very open about what their body is saying or what their face is saying, you need to bring that up. Once you tell people that, "Hey, I notice you're being a little bit, you know, you're having a little bit of a hard time telling me what you're really thinking. I just want to let you know that number one, I really value what you say, and number two, I'm really listening to what you say." And you have to back it up by showing it.

  3. And number three, make sure you listen and don't give negative feedback, at least not initially. Instead, thank them for honesty and then make sure you get back to them about what your thoughts are and what you intend to do. And then you need to follow through. If you tell somebody, "Hey, that's a really good idea, and I think we should do it." And you never get around to it without telling the person why it's delayed, I can promise you, they're never gonna come and tell you anything they're thinking again. So that feedback loop is really important to fill.

So it's important for you to realize how brave your people are when they tell you what they really think. It's important for us to appreciate the honesty and thank others when you get it. Even if the ideas are silly or you think they're stupid, you want to make sure you wait before criticizing. And, if and when you do criticize, first start with a great big "Thank you for sharing." And then brainstorm about how the suggested change from your team member could actually happen.

If you don't like the idea that they came up with, help them come up with an idea that you would be happy to do. After all, if they brought an issue to your attention, it's an issue. You may not think it's an issue, but I can promise you that for the person who brought it up to you, it's an issue to them. And if you don't do anything about solving that issue, they're never gonna talk to you again.

So, hey, I would love to have a conversation with you about getting honesty from your people. So feel free contacting me at to set up a time for us to talk.

In the meantime, if you're not ready to talk, download our free infographic on the Stage 2 Decision process. It's a great tool to use when getting honest feedback from your staff. And while you're at it, scroll down and let me know what you think about getting your people to tell you the truth.

Hey, this is Josh Patrick. You're at the sustainable business. Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope to see you back here really soon.

Topics: good leadership, hearing the truth, receiving feedback, honest feedback

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