Trust Matters

One of my management adages is

“Agreement in public,
disagreement in private”.

I was reminded of it by this quote collection from Kevin Kelly. (Here’s the permalink to the Scott Delinger quote.)

It’s one of these things that get’s tangled up in open communications, freedom of speech mantras that so many people seem to think applies to all communications. As if not voicing disagreement is somehow dishonest. No such thing as need to know, all management of communication is somehow evil. Also the element that agreeing in public is a kind of “me too” noise, less valuable that disagreement. It also get’s tangled up in “scientism” … as if somehow covering up disagreement, not pointing out errors, is counter to scientific progress, and must be stamped out for some greater good.

No. In my experience most disagreement is initially misunderstanding, and voicing disagreement initially tends to spread misunderstanding, and in a context where trust matters, spreading misunderstanding then spreads uncertainty and mistrust. Much more effective to voice misunderstanding and apparent disagreement with the other party privately, to establish if there really is error or significant disagreement, or simply lack of clarity that will benefit from clarification. Then go public with that. Much more productive of everyone’s time.

Of course if trust doesn’t matter to you, do your worst.

(More good quotes in that Kevin Kelley collection BTW – Tim O’Reilly and E. Digby Baltzell for example.)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.