28 April 2011

Clarity, Part 3: Let's Be Honest

Ever feel like you don't need to know anything?

I sure hope not. It's hard to do your job or move ahead when you're in the dark. As a junior Soldier, I was often frustrated when my leaders wouldn't shed light on what was going on.

There is just nothing so infuriarting as waiting excessively for your table/ appointment/ date to show up, without being explained the delay.

In the military, there's this really annoying phrase that covers all lapses in communication: "need to know."

Leaders who don't feel like spilling the beans will tell others that the situation is on a need to know basis.

Bull.

Well, sometimes it's not bull, of course. There are security concerns in the Army, but it's such an easy phrase to fall back on, and it masks all sorts of communication dysfunctions.

Example, we have to do this paperwork again. We want to know why. The leader just says that we don't need to know why. Come to find out, the leader lost the original documents.

Just be honest, folks! If you lost something, or screwed something up, tell us. We might be grumpy in our compliance, but we will comply for the sake of the mission. We were going to be grumpy anyway.

Another peeve (is every peeve a pet one?) is when the people in charge won't tell us what's coming up. Need to know, and all that. If you haven't planned that far ahead, tell us!

Which finally-- if you're still reading this, you're in the top decile of patience among readers-- brings us to the point of the post: to be clear, one must be honest.

Teaching my class, I often have to admit that I don't know the answer to something. My students usually let these things slide, because I am honest.

And I believe my students need to know just about everything. How I grade their papers, what topics will be covered later, and whether I really want them to read the entire chapter. There's just no benefit to deceiving them.

If I feel the need to mislead about my intentions or practices, then I really ought to rethink my plan.

Honestly.


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