To speak the truth in love is to communicate accurately with proper motive and with the best interests of our listeners at heart. There is no middle ground between honesty and dishonesty—to deceive is to be dishonest.
Ambassador Solutions had some healthy conflict amongst the management team regarding the wording of this Value in Action. Some felt that using the word “love” in a corporate context was inappropriate. Others objected to the fact that “speak the truth in love” was a direct quote from Ephesians 4:15 in the New Testament. Heretofore, we had purposely avoided scripture references. We needed to be able to hold our employees accountable for upholding our values without fear of religious discrimination accusations. But, try as we may, we simply couldn’t find a better way to say what we wanted to say.
In crafting this Value in Action, we wanted to address two primary concerns. First, we wanted to dismiss the notion that there are shades of the truth. We don’t see it that way. We believe that only shady people shade the truth. Secondly, we wanted to embrace the notion that communicating the truth properly often calls for great sensitivity and wisdom. Many factors are to be considered, such as timing, location, method, body language, presence of others, etc.
Long before we codified “speak the truth in love” I had an opportunity to put that value into action. “Michelle” was very warm and compassionate person. She truly loved people and went out of her way to help them in any way she could. As a recruiter, she had the prerequisite heart for people that the job requires. However, it also requires a head for business, something Michelle had, but too often allowed her big heart to override. She would spend far too much time with sub-par candidates who were often out of work for good reason. Michelle was costing us precious time and money that we couldn’t afford to lose. It was time to speak the truth of termination to this highly valued employee.
I thought it best to have this tough conversation outside the office. So, we took a short drive around the lake nearby. Knowing of Michelle’s strong faith, I played a song for her that had deeply impacted me. The title seemed apropos enough: “God Is In Control.” I told Michelle how much I appreciated all she had done for our firm and for me personally. We talked about the heart/head balance needed for recruiting success and how her heart was actually holding her back. I encouraged her to follow her heart to a career that would be a better fit. After a few tears and a prayer, we ended our employee/employer relationship.
That was 22 years ago and I haven’t seen Michelle since, though we do stay in touch via Facebook. She went on to spend some time in the mission field, got a degree in counseling and became a licensed therapist. My sense is that it hasn’t been an easy road for Michelle. Putting one’s heart on the line for people rarely is. However, I have no doubt that it was the road she needed to go down and speaking the truth in love helped her do it.