There’s an Art to “Speaking Truth to Power”

As I start tooling up to speak up more, it occurs to me that you can be a jerk about speaking truth to power.

There’s a way of doing it that makes you lose credibility instead of gaining it.  If you wade in with a “take-no-prisoners” attitude and blurt out your truth, it’s as if you hadn’t said anything.

In “48 Laws of Power”, one of the laws has to do with this.  It’s “Don’t argue with your superiors, but demonstrate the truth of what you say indirectly.”  That’s part of it.  A standoff – opinion against opinion – with a powerful superior just ends up with all your supporters and all your support evaporating and a conclusion that, even if you’re on to something, it couldn’t amount to much.

Demonstrating, to the contrary, invites others, including your powerful superior, to draw their own conclusions about the “facts” (although, of course, the conclusions are yours all along).

I’d love to get better at demonstrating as part of speaking truth to power.

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