Are You Telling the Truth? Take the BBQ Test



The following conversation is real. While it has been edited for length, the wording reflects what was actually said.


“Oh, I can’t wait for the weekend.”




“So I can let my hair down and be me. I can’t be ‘on’ all the time.”


(Pause.) “What are you ‘on’ while you’re at work?”


“I’m not on anything. I just mean that I can be the real me when I’m at home.”


“Why can’t you be the real you while you’re at work?”


(Alarm.) “Are you kidding? I have to be on my toes and at my best while I’m at work.”


“Don’t you want to be at your best while you’re at home?”


(Gasp.) “Well of course I do. But at home I’ve got people who support me no matter who I am or what I’m doing.”


“That says a lot about you. And a lot about us.”


(Confusion.) “What do you mean?”


“I call it the BBQ test. How do people talk when they get together for a beer or a BBQ? How different are people in a social, relaxed setting – as compared to when they’re at work. If their words and attitudes are different, then you can guarantee you’ve got an elephant in the office.”


“But I’m not going to be the real me in front of my co-workers. I can’t.”


“That means you – and we – have failed the BBQ test.”


“How so?”


“Because you can’t be your authentic self at work if it requires you to expend a lot of extra effort and energy – so you can be ‘on’. This effort is a waste, because every minute you can’t be yourself, is every minute you’re not moving your life forward.”


(Pause.)” I hadn’t thought of it that way.”


“But it’s good feedback for us, too. We fail if we don’t create an environment where you can come to work and be supported for being the real you. Until we create that sort of workplace, we’ll be paying you a full wage – but only getting .50 cents on the dollar.”

Take the BBQ Test. Where will you lead – where will you stomp elephants – today?





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