The Opposite of Honesty…

You get to the end of the meeting, the end of the presentation, the end of the webinar.

The person in charge says:

Then this happens:


Everyone returns to their desks. The person in charge thinks ‘I have everyone’s agreement’. Everyone else thinks ‘Screw that – I’m going back to doing what I’ve always done’.

If your ‘any questions?’ is a tumbleweed moment, please stop and think for a minute. Have you bored everyone to sleep? Have you confused everyone? Is it fear that is preventing people from having the conversation? If your ‘any questions?’ is a tumble weed moment, take a small risk, and a little time to gently exhaust the possibilities for the silence. Maybe – just maybe – that tumbleweed reaction means you’ve got total, unequivocal, rock solid backing. Maybe…

And typically…

The opposite of honesty…is silence.

photo credit


Author: Doug Shaw

Artist and Consultant. Embracing uncertainty, sketching myself into existence. Helping people do things differently, through an artistic lens.

8 thoughts on “The Opposite of Honesty…”

  1. Hi Doug,

    ‘Opposite of honesty is silence’? Not sure. Silence takes many forms. For example, you’ve written about fear before, and silence born of fear is honesty of a sort. I tend to view silence as an intervention or statement; not an easy one to read/decipher etc., and it is laden with meaning, it is data. Question then is how to get more meaningful data from it.

    As I write this, I am reminded of an experience I had facilitating a client awayday that had the odd tumbleweed. It took some probing and prodding, and what eventually emerged was a ‘simple rule’ in the organisation: “It is not OK to ask questions around here”. Maybe that is an example of ‘honest silence’?…


    1. Hi Steve – thanks for popping by.

      I hinted at fear in this post and while I guess silence driven by fear is honesty of a sort, it’s not very helpful, at least I don’t think it is. I like your question on how to get more meaningful data from the silence.

      ‘It is not OK to ask questions around here’ is more an example of a toxic culture than honest silence I think. That point was told to me at the very first ‘office’ job I had. I left. And yes – I accept that – at least they told me how things roll around there 🙂

      My key point is don’t assume silence means yes we agree – and I think that for a lot of people, that resonates. Cheers – Doug

  2. Re your last point, totally agree. It smacks of cod compliance. If I am faced with universal agreement on something, especially silence, my alarm goes off.



    1. Cod Smacks should be some kind of piscine snack I think.

      I got into a conversation on this honesty/silence thing and here’s another perspective: Maybe people need a little time to process their thoughts, so maybe take a short break and reconvene for questions and conversation? I like that.

      1. Your career as an FMCG marketeer starts now 🙂

        And yes, the pause for thought is a good idea – I don’t think I have intentionally framed the consensus phase like that, so thanks, I like it too.

  3. I blame it on the meeting itself. 90% of them are a 90% waste of time. Not that I have never said that before.

    It seems to be increasingly apparent that organisations are becoming less able to function properly. An interesting thought is that they are overstaffed (cf. recent research on how few jobs have been lost given the dire financial situation of the past few years – even taking into account self emp and part time etc).

    People know this – and create masses of work, but also want to keep their head down. Result – complete dysfunction and dishonesty. And a good sign is how badly they are behaving with suppliers. The tales are legion……

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