Book Summary: What Is The Emperor Wearing?

By: Regine Azurin

This article is based on the following book:

What Is The Emperor Wearing?

Truth-Telling In Business Relationships

Butterworth-Heinneman

ISBN 0-7506-9872-1

217 pages

This book is inspired by the popular tale “The Emperor’s
New Clothes". It provides stories of ordinary
individuals in the workplace who are in the predicament
of confronting the unlikely benefits of “deception" and
steering away from the risks and dangers of
“truth-telling".

Unfortunately, “truth-telling" is justifiably perceived
to be difficult, risky, and unrewarding. More often than
not, others will try to invalidate your truth with what
they believe is true rather than discover the true
nature of the problem.

Take the case of Rita. She tried to tell the truth to
her manager, Kerwin, but he refused to listen. Her
predictions were correct, but it was only after the
scandal broke out in the media that Kerwin realized it.
Clearly, Rita’s truth was ignored.

Robert, however, was reluctant to accept that his store
manager was stealing supplies from his dry cleaning
establishment. Robert lost money in a store that seemed
to be doing very good business simply because he’d rather
not know what the truth is.

Truth-telling has become more risky and difficult to
some of the characters in the book. Basically, they had
hard times telling the truth when:

•the truth is bad news

•the truths collide—thatis, when your truth
getsfabricated along the way

•you’d be happier if you know what the truth is

•you’re not sure if your truth is really true

•your integrity is sacrificed

•it makes better sense not to tell the truth

The genuine stories of Rita, Robert and the other
characters of the book proved the profitable side of
truth-telling.

In the long run, it has become obvious
that truth-telling is always more beneficial than
“deception". To practice the skill the following is
recommended:

•Examine Assumptions. With the fear of
jeopardizing her position by confronting the
manager, Kathleen decided to carefully examine
her opinion that her boss is behaving
inappropriately at meetings they attended.
Eventually, it dawned on her that her objectives
are different from his.

•Know Yourself First. Irwin, a
telecommunications executive, was not aware of his
alcohol problems. It took near disaster before
he realized this. Looking back, Irwin identified
that incident as a major turning point in his
life and career.

•Use Your Intuition to Guide You. Elizabeth rarely
understood the reason for crying at meetings. When
the team examined the situation more carefully,
they discovered that Elizabeth’s intuition was
warning them when something subtle was wrong with
some proposed action.

•The Truth Will Set You Free, but First It May Make
You Mad. Pete’s team confronted him on his
ineffective leadership style. It was difficult to
hear the negative feedback, but as he listened and
responded, the team members’ animosity changed to
offers of help and support.

•Get the Information You Need Without Being Gullible
or Paranoid.

•Ask Questions with Grace and Skill.

•Tell Your Truth with Compassion for Yourself and
Others. Valerie struggled with herself about how to
inform her client that she suspected he was using
drugs. As she prepared him for job interviews, she
started to think that other interviewers might notice
the subtle symptoms and mannerisms she had observed
in him. She carefully examined her own internal
conversation and her fear of alienating her client.
Her commitment to her own integrity helped her find
an appropriate way to take the necessary risk while
continuing to support her client.

•The “What I Feel Like Saying" Process. Staff meetings
were becoming a waste of time in Monica’s mortgage
banking office. Staff members would come late, leave
early, and barely pretend to participate. Introducing
a simple exercise at the start of each weekly meeting
allowed everyone to gradually learn to work together
more effectively.

•Is Something Sinister Going On? Everyone at the
meeting was frustrated. People were repeating their
points several times, but they were not reaching any
resolution. A simple matter that should have taken
five minutes had been debated for an hour. After a
brief recess, Barry raised a new issue that concerned
everyone. When the discussion of the new topic was
completed, they went back to considering the original
issue, and they reached agreement on a solution almost
immediately.

•Using Agreements to Create Dialogue Instead of Conflict.
It is important for any truth teller to realize that
your truth is not THE TRUTHPsychology Articles, and neither is anyone
else’s. Exploring different perspectives on the truth
instead of arguing about which is correct can best be
accomplished in a safe environment. A variety of
organizations use an ever-evolving set of agreements to
create and maintain a context in which truth-telling
can occur.

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