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Author calls for less ‘BS’ in the office

Scott Jagow Apr 28, 2008

Author calls for less ‘BS’ in the office

Scott Jagow Apr 28, 2008


Scott Jagow: How often are you really honest with your coworkers? Let’s face it, there’s a certain amount of BS that makes the workplace function. But the author of a new book thinks there should be less BS. Sam Culbert’s book is called “Beyond Bullsh*t.” Forgive me, but that’s the title.
There’s an asterisk where the “i” should be. Culbert advocates something called “straight talk”. First, I asked him what he means by BS in the office.

Sam Culbert: Maybe the biggest source of baloney at work is people pretending. Even though they live in a self-interested world, everything they’re doing is driven by what’s best for the organization. It’s just like in the history of the world, no one has ever washed a rental car. In the history of the world, I don’t think many people have intentionally advocated something as being good for the company that they hadn’t first thought through as good for themselves

Jagow: (Laughs) Let me see if I can get an example. Can you give me a couple of practical things people can do right now at work to improve that communication?

Culbert: Well, the first issue is, if you’re talking with people, is make room for their viewpoint by owning your ideas and using the first person pronoun “I”: I think. I feel. I believe. I see. That can reduce the chances of having hard-fought disputes because it leaves room for the other person to say, “I see it differently.”

Jagow: If you have a meeting with your boss and ordinarily you might skirt around a certain issue, are you saying come straight out with it.

Culbert: Nooo. Not unless you got the goods on your boss; you caught him with his hand in the cookie jar.

Jagow: All right.

Culbert: That’s not what you do. Look, straight talk is about a relationship where you really care about the other person’s success and his or her general well-being. And, it’s not about getting rid of all the spin. But it’s getting rid of the spin that has to do with deceit and illusion.

Jagow: Yeah, I’m picking up on a theme here. Are you suggesting we need a little bit more humanity in the workplace? Compassion?

Culbert: I think that’s excellent, Scott. Because, we’re talking… It’s not just about compassion, it’s about facing up to human nature as it truly exists, instead of pretending that people are not biased, that people are not emotional. When there are more straight-talk relationships amongst the people in the room, all work events sound different; they look different; there are few losers. It’s a question of how can each of us make out OK and not do it at the expense of the company.

Jagow: Sam Culbert, author of “Straight Talk at Work.” Thanks for your honesty.

Culbert:(Laughs) Scott, that was good.

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