By Dee Yingst
It is possible to be both truthful and kind.
I don’t understand why telling the truth is such a hard concept for some people. I “get” that people want to save face, help someone else save face, or just not hurt someone else’s feelings, and might choose to not fully disclose something. There are limits, however, and if we’re not cognizant of them we risk making a difficult situation even worse and potentially destroying a relationship.
If we’re all going to work together, we have to be able to trust each other; lying is the surest way to destroy trust.
It doesn’t matter on which side of the table you are sitting, either.
For instance, I was recently a speaker at a re-entry event for convicted offenders rejoining the workforce and this question came up – ‘how do I explain that the gap on my resume is my incarceration?’ To me, the answer is that you made a bad decision, you were arrested, convicted and served your sentence. You’ve learned your lesson and are moving on with your life. I can honestly tell you that I am way more interested in what you did after the mistake, than in the mistake itself. Same advice if the reason is because you were fired. Own it. Admit it. Deal with it. Move on. Don’t lie about it. I will probably find out anyway and that will be the end of that potential employment opportunity.
Employers, if you’re terminating someone’s employment don’t call it a “layoff” or worse, give the person the “option” to resign. It’s not really an option anyway – being forced to resign is still a termination; it’s called constructive discharge (go ahead, look it up). Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking that you are empowering the employee by giving them a choice: quit-or-be-fired is not a choice. Being forced to resign is demeaning and it actually makes it harder for the individual to answer the question about the gap in employment in the interview. I would much rather talk to someone whose job was eliminated or they were terminated than the person who “resigned” without another job (which is exactly what that “resignation option” looks like on a resume). In the absence of extenuating circumstances, quitting a job without a plan is a not a good sign. It sends a pretty bad message to a prospective employer.
So, is it possible to be both truthful and kind? Yes it is. Our headline question is a pretty silly example but a good one. If you can answer that question truthfully and kindly (my son is living proof that it can be done) and receive a “thank you” in return, then you’re on the right track. It’s not only possible to do both but it’s preferable.