Corporate Culture: Truth vs. B.S.


beyond-bullshitI just read an interview with Samuel Culbert—a professor at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management and the author of Beyond Bullsh*t—arguing that how people talk to each other at work affects the success of their businesses.

Culbert asserts that “bulls—t has become the etiquette of choice in office life,” and that it can undermine a workplace because “it makes people feel beaten up, deceived—even dirty.”

He defines “bulls—t” as “telling people you what you think they need to hear.” He maintains that—even though bullsh–tting sometimes keeps “the corporate peace”—it is “always self-serving” since it “may involve finessing the truth or outright lying.” This in turn suppresses the real, or best, ideas and so the company suffers in the long run. Straight talk at work, then, signals a more robust work environment and healthier company because it indicates a workplace that has a culture built on trust and good ideas.

So—any thoughts on the tradeoff between truth and hurt feelings? Have you come across any workplace tips for encouraging truth (and don’t say staff meetings or cc’s on emails!) On the other hand, do you have any examples of yes-men or –women bringing a company down?

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