If you aren’t sharing the details, don’t blame people for not knowing them

Estimated read time: 2 minutes

You may have been there. It can be a one-on-one conversation or even a meeting with a number of people.

One person tells a story involving others not there and people are outraged, surprised or whatever is the natural reaction.

Then – sometimes later in private to somebody else – it’s revealed that this person didn’t know all the details. But the reason they didn’t know the details was because those with knowledge of the details didn’t share them. Sometimes, those other people even withheld them on purpose. It’s often an Industrial Age move based on the practice of “need to know” or that leaders believe they don’t have to communicate “down.”

Certainly, there are some confidential things that cannot be released and shared with everyone who potentially could benefit from knowing them. But, that doesn’t make those discussions any easier. People fill in the blanks for stories with their perceptions (aka guesses) unless they know the actual truths.

And being transparent is important and even appreciated. 

Think about situations when law enforcement isn’t releasing something that they have deemed not public. Hardly anyone ever says how thankful they are that law enforcement is not releasing it. People usually want to know.

But sometimes, some things just cannot shared. But many things can be. More importantly, perhaps, they can be shared quickly. As long as we decide that this is what we’ll do and we make it a priority it’s possible.

Something new has happened that impacts people, share the information as soon as possible. Now. Honestly and completely. Without violating any actual laws and privacy rules, of course.


Picking the right channel for a specific communication is important

Hiding information and knowledge doesn’t make it more powerful

If we don’t share the context we know people will just jump to conclusions based on what they know and what they think they know. “Thinking what we know” is really just a fancy way of saying “guessing” and when we guess we might – maybe even likely – guess wrong. How can we be right? We don’t know. 

Ask questions and try to not jump to conclusions, but really there comes a time that we have to make decisions based on what we know. If others – despite having the opportunity – do not share additional context people can’t and won’t wait forever. They already jumped to conclusions. 

Like anything, being not so transparent is a habit. Once we learn how to be transparent and learn how to phrase things correctly (but not always alarmingly) in the moment, that’s becoming a habit, too.

I prefer to know the full story. Don’t you? Feel free to leave a comment.