Do You Talk Straight or Manipulate?

This post starts a series I’m writing based on Stephen M. R. Covey’s book, The Speed of Trust. For those who have taken training based on the book (such as Inspiring Trust, or Leading at the Speed of Trust), you know the materials include what looks like a deck of cards. People love these Trust Action Cards!

Each card details one of the 13 behaviors Covey outlines in his book as the keys to building and maintaining trust. The front provides a simple, hand-held reminder of what the right behaviors look like, as well as what the Opposite behaviors look like. The back gives examples of What to Say to demonstrate the behavior, as well as illustrates Counterfeit manifestations of the behavior (when someone demonstrates the opposite).

Here’s an example of my personal favorite, and most-frequently referenced of the 13 Behaviors: Talk Straight. The FRONT of the card says:

  • Definition: Be honest. Tell the truth. Let people know where you stand. Use simple language. Call things what they are. Demonstrate integrity. Don’t manipulate people or distort facts. Don’t spin the truth. Don’t leave false impressions.
  • Opposite: To lie or to deceive

The BACK of the card says:  What to Say –

  • Here’s how I see the situation
  • This is what I feel strongly about . . .
  • I suggest we do the following . . .
  • These are the facts as I see them . . .
  • From my perspective . . .
  • I respect you, and I want to talk straight with you.
  • My intent is to be candid with you.
  • Let me tell you what I’ve observed . . .
  • This is what I understand . . .

Counterfeit: “Spinning”, positioning, posturing, and manipulating. Withholding information, beating around the bush, double-talking, and flattering. “Corporate speak.” Technically telling the truth, but leaving the wrong impression.

A big part of the power of The Speed of Trust is that when an entire team goes through the training (or even reads the book) together, you develop a common vocabulary to talk about how you interact with one another. Then when someone says, “I need you to talk straight with me”, you know exactly what they mean and why. You’re instantly empowered to do just that! No fears about stepping on toes.

Who hasn’t witnessed these counterfeit behaviors in the workplace . . . not to mention outside of work? Commit to more straight talk in your life today. It will help you build credibility, both personally and professionally.

Betsy Winkler is a Partner at People Results and certified to deliver Inspiring Trust. She can be reached on email at or on Twitter at @BetsyWinkler1.