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What would happen if everyone was 100% honest in the office?

“Honesty is a great policy but not necessarily the best”. Fair enough that’s not as catchy but it is still a work in progress. I’m trying my best to adapt cliché life aphorisms into more work-friendly versions. For example, if we were all honest at work, the place would collapse. The truth can sometimes hurt but with stress levels peaking as they tend to in an office, the truth would be excruciating.

Imagine being taken into your manager’s office for them to tell you that they straight-up don’t like you, don’t think you’re funny and that if they had it their way you’d be fired tomorrow. Hurts doesn’t it? A fun mind experiment is to imagine a world where everyone said everything they were thinking all the time. Like Liar Liar with Jim Carrey except everyone is Jim Carrey.

This video from Big Think sees Harvard professor Robert Kegan explain what would happen if we had a completely honest workplace. This wouldn’t be enforced by my Liar Liar hypothetical. Kegan explains what would happen if everyone was constantly recorded in their office.

He argues that this is the way things would pan out:

  • People would start to blend who they are at work with who they are out of work. If you’re being recorded then the amount of behind the back gossip will dramatically decrease so the fear of being gossiped about will drop and therefore self-comfort will bloom.
  • People will feel so much more in the loop. If everything is being recorded and the companies have an obligation to show you the tapes, you won’t feel bad for missing meetings because you’ll have every mention of your name on the record.
  • Unprofessional behaviour might not decrease but it’ll take a new form. The tricky thing about humans is that they have a knack of adapting to all circumstances.