When Honesty Hurts: Between Authenticity and “Sincericide” at Work

A personal experience of how too much honesty can backfire, and a good way to navigate the thin line between being sincere and being self-damaging.

Jaime Martínez Bowness
Work City
Published in
5 min readMar 14, 2024

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Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

As a business professor, I often teach the power of authenticity and vulnerability, particularly when leading others. Both factors can heighten our charisma and make us appear warmer, more credible, and more accessible.

But then there’s a term a colleague once mentioned: sincericide.

She jokingly said it in passing, alluding to occasions when honesty is harmful. When we tell a superior something that isn’t welcome, or maybe share things with team members that instead of elevating our leadership, weaken it.

Where do we draw the line?

A group of directives at an organization, myself included, had been attending bi-monthly work sessions with a coach. We’d been randomly assembled in groups and assigned a coach to work through issues related to work-life balance.

During our fifth session together, at the tenth-month mark of the coaching process, we were sitting around a round table, cups of coffee, water, and juice in hand. It was an informal session; some of us wore…

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Jaime Martínez Bowness
Work City

Business, history, philosophy, and leadership--all tied together.