Earnings conference calls are notoriously dull and unhelpful rituals. Just last month, Quantified Communications, a firm that uses software to analyze the speech of executives, reported that CEOs and CFOs are far more trustworthy when they speak informally in the question -and-answer sessions with analysts, compared to the canned remarks they use to open the sessions.

But the reaction to Hoguet’s comments suggests that candor comes with a price, and that executives are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. If you’re bland and anodyne, research shows you’re viewed as untrustworthy. But if you speak your mind and reveal uncomfortable truths, your company can get hammered.

It’s hard to tease apart how much of a share’s fall can be blamed on a CEO or CFO’s comments when there are so many other sound reasons for selling the stock. But the fallout at Macy’s certainly won’t encourage other executives to speak their mind in the future.

📬 Sign up for the Daily Brief

Our free, fast, and fun briefing on the global economy, delivered every weekday morning.