Sunday, March 1, 2009

The poison of "mitigated speech"

March 1 "Straight talk in tough times" by Sunday News guest columnist Bill Adams demonstrates how much more cogent a columnist can be when he or she has read and reports on a good book. Adams discusses how "Malcolm Gladwell "Outliers; The Story of Success" describes "...mitigated speech, which is any attempt to downplay or sugarcoat the meaning of what is being said."

To rise near to the top of the business and political world and to generate successful outcomes (we emphasize the second part!), one has to have the courage to speak one's mind, even when what you say will not be welcomed and may result in rejection and even exile, at least temporarily. (Great examples were Winston Churchill and a generation later Martin Luther King.)

The Bible teaches us to remove the "stumbling block" from before others. Yet it never ceases to amaze how valid suggestions meant to be helpful are often taken as affronts and ignored, to the great detriment of the recipient.

The willingness to speak one's mind on the one hand and the willingness to benefit from advice on the other are often the difference between successful leaders and the general population. At times being "nice" can be counterproductive and even unfair.