Food for Thought #9 – Be honest

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Are you honest? Every time? To every one? In every situation?

Oh, come on, be honest! Most of us aren’t honest every time, everywhere and in every situation. And, to be honest, this isn`t implicitly bad. There may be situations were the truth isn’t appropriate (at least for the moment). But most of the time it is and the only thing that stops us, is our comfort zone. Unfortunately, the truth is not always positive; otherwise, it would be easy to tell. And so it is often a matter of leaving our comfort zone.

My wife is one of the honest persons I know. In the beginning of our relationship, it wasn’t easy for me all the time. I had to learn to cope with her straight honesty. But now I really love it. Most of the time I know the score, and that’s a great thing. What if everybody would be more honest? Wouldn’t this be great?

I bet every one of us knows a scene in a movie, where the main actor has to confess something, but he didn’t do it. In the end, everything escalated, just because he didn’t confess right at the beginning (OK, I know the movie will be crap if he does ;)). But I’m sure if you think for a second, you’ll find similar situations in your life. For me honesty is also quite important in agile teams. Without honesty in your team, you won’t be able to benefit from Scrum, XP or any other agile toolkit.

Honesty is also important for your self development. The first step is to be honest to yourself. But to be able to evolve positively,  you need the honest feedback from other people around you. Without their help, you’ll fail. But it is also important to be honest to others. If they ask you for your honest feedback, give it to them. Stop beating around the bush even if it unpleasant some times. Most people will be thankful for this. And if you aren’t asked for feedback, give them uncalled feedback.

And now give me some honest feedback, because I want to improve my blog posts. Thank you!

My wife is one of the honest persons I know. In the beginning of our relationship, it wasn’t easy for me all the time. I had to learn to cope with her straight honesty. But now I really love it. Most of the time I know the score, and that’s a great thing. What if everybody would be more honest? Wouldn’t this be great? 

I bet every one of us knows a scene in a movie, where the main actor has to confess something, but he didn’t do it. In the end, everything escalated, just because he didn’t confess right at the beginning (OK, I know the movie will be crap if he does ;)). But I’m sure if you think for a second, you’ll find similar situations in your life. Honesty isn’t for nothing one of the core values of Scrum. Without honesty in your team, you won’t be able to benefit from Scrum, XP or any other agile toolkit.

Honesty is also important for your self development. The first step is to be honest to yourself. But to be able to evolve positively,  you need the honest feedback from other people around you. Without their help, you’ll fail. But it is also important to be honest to others. If they ask you for your honest feedback, give it to them. Stop beating around the bush even if it unpleasant some times. Most people will be thankful for this. And if you aren’t asked for feedback, give them

6 thoughts on “Food for Thought #9 – Be honest”

  1. I actually didn’t know honesty was one of the core values of Scrum, but I’ve never had any real Scrum training. :-> It makes sense, of course. I would say along with honesty goes transparency.

    But as in social or family situations, sometimes direct honesty isn’t the best practice, right? If your wife said “do these jeans make my butt look big”, you’d answer carefully. I think similarly, if a fellow tester says to me, “do these test cases seem all right” or a programmer says “does this look like what the customer wants”, I might not be brutally honest, but find a way to be encouraging while providing constructive feedback, right?

    1. Hi Lisa

      You’re right that direct honesty isn’t the best practice all the time, but I believe that some people are just afraid of telling the truth. They want to stay in their comfort zone, instead of getting in a potential argument. IMHO it’s about how to be honest. Sometimes you have to tell the truth in a roundabout way.

      P.S.: I’ve to admit that honesty isn’t a Scrum value. I mixed it up with courage. I just updated the post :)

  2. I think there’s a fine line between honest and blunt, and between politeness and lies.
    I generally prefer being honest to being nice.
    But: there’s time and place for both.
    Balance is key…
    Olaf

    1. Thanks for your comment Olaf. I agree that you’ve to find a balance. As a coach, honesty is more important than being nice.

  3. As Olaf writes, one must be careful to know that “honesty” and “frankness” are different dimensions. I strive to be honest and compassionate, which at different times calls for different levels of frankness.

    I like to preface my moments of brutal frankness by asking the other person to be ready for it. “I want to be really frank about something. Are you ready?” If they say that they aren’t, then I wait. It seems to work.

    1. Thanks for your comment J.B. I like the idea to preface the frankness. This is a good way to be honest.

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