What you do not know can, and ultimately does, hurt you and potentially others, too. Instead of keeping negative information hidden, what you want others to do is tell it like it is or at least let you know when something is amiss. Communicating honestly, even when it raises tempers, will ultimately pull people together and build trust.
Here is a good example of why being straight with people is important. The president of a university gave one of his deans a smaller percentage raise than her colleagues in an attempt to communicate his dissatisfaction with her performance. The University Board of Directors had authorized merit raises of up to 5 percent.
The president reasoned that when the underachieving dean compared her meager 1 percent increase to the maximum 5 percent received by each of her colleagues she would get the message and improve her performance.
She got a message, but not the one he intended. Concerned that she had fallen short of her goals, she was expecting the president to request her resignation.
Imagine her surprise when she received the president’s letter announcing a bonus. At first, she felt like a fool for having doubted herself.
Later, she realized that he must have known she had not achieved her goals, but he did not mention that fact in the award letter. Either he did not care or she was working for an incompetent boss.
Neither was true of course. The president was fully aware of her shortcomings, but had not communicated his displeasure clearly. He soon realized his strategy had backfired and called a meeting with the dean to clarify his discontent with her performance.
Relieved to know that her boss was not incompetent, just a poor communicator, she immediately began working on a performance improvement plan. It did not take long before she was earning full merit pay.