Everyday Honesty

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By Roy Snell
roy.snell@corporatecompliance.org

I love “everyday honesty.” What I am talking about are people who tell you, respectfully and civilly, what they really think about everyday, run-of-the-mill issues. I love to listen to them. I am not talking about people who lie through their teeth every day or major dishonesty. I am talking about people who take it a step further. The current cultural shift that has put so many things off limits to talk about has caused some people to just stop sharing their opinions. The baby has been thrown out with the bath water. It kind of comes off as dishonest to me. Some people have taken the perfectly acceptable effort from our society to become more politically correct and taken it very close to the edge of suppression of thought. When I see people who are returning to the concept of open discussion, it comes off as honesty to me. I missed everyday honesty. I think a lot of people miss it, and they like it more now than they ever have, because it was slipping away from us.

I kind of like civil, everyday honesty rebels. I am not talking about the screaming, hating, finger– pointing, offending types. I am talking about the calm, thoughtful, civil, honest types. They impress me. They say what they think. They talk about the elephant in the room. They address issues that should be addressed. They are civil about it. They do not care if it affects their income or popularity. They don’t mind having someone tell them they are wrong. They listen to alternative views. They find out when they are wrong because they say what they think. They change their mind when they hear a better idea. They think it’s OK to risk being wrong. It’s an important part of what I would consider the attribute of everyday honesty.

The idea for this post came to me from a couple of people I talk to on a regular basis who I think have this ability. One of them is our incoming CEO, Gerry Zack. When he interviewed for the incoming SCCE/HCCA CEO job, those who talked to him on the phone, and later in person, came out of the room very impressed. For some, it was close to a “coming-out-of-their-shoes impressed.” His resume was great, but this was a reaction to a discussion or a person. What I came up with was that he is honest, humble, and confident. Since then, I can’t get this out of my head. Our culture is currently coming off a period of possible overreach on “what is OK to talk about.” It makes us treasure people like Gerry. People miss honest and civil discourse on everyday issues.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Perfectly expressed, Roy. Too many are too quick to play the “offended” card rather than engage in conversation, speak to intent, and, when necessary, respectfully agree to disagree. The art of debate has all but disappeared. In my circles, I tend to say we never learned how to fight well. It’s the same mindset that leads society to condemn an accused well before the facts are in—the antithesis of our judicial system. “Let there be peace [and rational discourse] on earth, and let it begin with me.”

    • Mariann…I think when people realize that there is nothing inherently wrong with disagreeing with another person…then constructive, meaningful, and even positive debate can exist.

      Too often people attach negativity to the idea of disagreement and rather than see it as the genuine expression of a difference of opinion or position, it is seen to mean that somehow it is a personal attack on another or motivated by something other than from a positive perspective.

  2. How refreshing to hear such opinions on the incoming CEO…thanks for sharing.

    I also want to point out that often there are organizationally related cultural pressures or just out right fear of retaliation related factors that may prevent people, including those within compliance departments, from being “everyday honest”.

    Perhaps Mr. Zack’s example of “everyday honesty” will be a source of reassurance to some folks that they too can perhaps sooner rather than later also be seen as people that show “everyday honesty”.

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