Interpersonally Competent People Tell the Truth

Today is Friday, so this post is on interpersonal competence.

On Monday, The Wall Street Journal had a special section on corporate governance.  The lead story of the section, which took up all of the first page and most of the third was called “Why CEOs Need to be Honest With Their Boards.” 

The article, written by Kaja Whitehouse, quoted James Kilts, former CEO of Gillette and Nabisco, “Tell the truth…be open with your board about a range of issues, from the failure of strategic plans to unsavory business practices within the organization.”

It went on to say, “Such a recommendation may seem obvious, but people who have spent time in corporate boardrooms say honest communication is often lacking between CEOs and their fellow directors.  ‘Communication and transparency being a problem is more the rule rather than the exception,’ says Steve Wheeler a VP with consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton.

“In some cases, this lack of honesty makes the headlines…But there are less dramatic, and much more frequent, communication problems that are just as damaging.  We’re talking here about CEOs who try to solve problems themselves without keeping the rest of the board informed of new developments.  Or the CEOs who are reluctant to admit mistakes – and may massage the truth to make things appear better than they are.”

I found this piece to be very interesting.  In general, CEOs are people who have great lives and careers.  Yet, if the article is accurate – and I believe it is – they have the same interpersonal competence issues as people just beginning their careers and mid level managers. 

Interpersonally competent people know that they need the help of others to succeed.  They communicate openly.  And they are truthful.  They don’t try to solve all of their problems on their own.  They let others in on their problems and fears (as well as their triumphs and successes) and they don’t massage the truth to present themselves in the best light.

Here are nine common sense tips that I’ve developed for becoming more interpersonally competent.

  • Be honest.
  • Be humble.
  • Be courteous.
  • Be responsible for yourself.
  • Admit your mistakes.
  • Keep others informed
  • Be a consensus builder.
  • Listen well – and respond appropriately.
  • Respect others as human beings.

The common sense point here is simple.  Interpersonal competence is a difficult skill to master – as you can see from the story about CEO – Board communication problems story.  You have to work at it.  If you follow the nine common sense tips above, you’ll be on your way to becoming an interpersonally competent person.

That’s it for today.  Thanks for reading.  Log on to my website for more common sense.  I had decided to close down my other blog: to concentrate on this one.  However, several people have suggested that I leave it up even if I plan no more posts.  It seems as if they feel that what I’ve written there over the past few years is valuable content and deserves its place in cyber space.  So, I am going to leave up  I may even post there every once in a while.  If you enjoyed it, don’t cancel your RSS feed.  This means that if you want a free ebook version of my book 4 Secrets of High Performing Organizations, you can still get it by logging on to

I’ll see you around the web, and at Alex’s Lemonade Stand.


PS: Speaking of Alex’s Lemonade Stand – my fundraising page is still open.  Please go to to read Alex’s inspiring story and to donate if you can.

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