In the corporate world, we pride ourselves on being nothing but polite during meetings. We sound like we're walking on eggshells, and most times, we have absolutely no issues obligingly nodding to someone who has been going on for 20 minutes on an unrelated topic during crunch time.
Have you ever sat through a quarter sales meeting and internally cringed or rolled your eyes at discussions that was gobsmacking-ly out of tangent? If you found yourself holding back, because no one else was saying anything and you were afraid to sound too aggressive, or look like the bad manager/colleague and potentially be the outcast of the century, then reconsider why the thought of speaking out was strangling you.
Calling out bullshit isn’t about dramatically yelling at someone about the excuses they just spouted and how they’re taking up everyone else’s time. But when a business is in the middle of crunch time, when the pressure for numbers presses down, and when every effort is needed to push plans forward, these are moments when it is crucial to be honest, not passive.
In short, if you miscalculated the deal’s process because you overlooked certain approvals, then say it. Don’t waste everyone's time calling it a product issue, a presales problem, a pricing problem or basically an OPP (other people’s problem) because if you own the deal, it is YOUR problem.
Politely stopping someone in the middle of their verbal diarrhoea comes with the responsibility that you can improve the situation and provide a better option to turn it around. When we are all clear about the issue, it is easier to solve the problem. When done right, “calling out BS” politely can contribute to a culture of transparency - that it is okay to be honest about which deals are real and which aren't. This allows the person to feel that everyone wants to genuinely help without a personal agenda, and that everyone has got his/her back. That speaks volumes about team camaraderie.
When the lines get blurred, see if you’re able to value-add to the conversation diplomatically. No, I don’t believe titles matter here if you have the facts. Is it easy to call out someone’s bullshit? No. But should there be someone in the team capable enough to engage and change course? Yes. We could all use a bit of honesty and bravery sometimes. Especially during crunch time, if not all the time.
Written by: Yasmeen Banu and Josephine Chia Image credits - Brittney Carmichael