It’s Clear When We’re Not Transparent

Blog 20-10-13 photo

When I am not transparent and open with others—whether at home or work—it doesn’t feel right. When others are not seemingly open with me, I tend to feel a little anxious.

My father’s ill health has me thinking recently about families and how they communicate. There are families that share just about everything, those that share very little, and everything in-between.

As a child, I thought my family was communicating openly due to the fact there were seven of us living together in a tiny house and we could hide almost nothing from each other. Over time, I realized that our family communication patterns were more hub-and-spoke with our parents. We siblings were relying on involuntary exposure to each other’s life events as our “communication style” more so than intentional transparency. After we kids left home and dispersed across the world as young adults, it became clear we were not always open about what was happening in our lives.

Since we have grown older and our mother died 9 years ago, things have shifted: We reach out more often and share what is happening in our lives. We have dropped pretenses and are more authentic in our interactions. I attribute this to conscious choices we have made to lean on one another and because we realize our relationships matter.

These dynamics are not unlike my past work experiences. When physically together at the office, communication happened more frequently…but it was not guaranteed to be transparent. In fact, it was clear when it was not: I noticed hidden agendas and disconnects where words differed from body language. When working remotely, it seemed even harder to communicate with the absence of informative cues (e.g., visual, auditory) that we had at the office.

At work now (fully virtual), our communication lines are frequent and authentic because of clear expectations and trust we have established with one another. And this sincere level of communication helps us learn from one another and grow together as colleagues.

Communicating openly and encouraging others to do so has made a positive difference for me: I feel more supported when times are hard, acknowledged when things are going well, and gratified to be there for the people in my life.

This Week: Think of one person—at home, at work, in your circle of friends, etc.—with whom you would like more open communication. Instead of demanding it, share your perspective with that person: 1) State your desire and be specific about what you want (e.g., more frequent communication, more transparency, greater authenticity); 2) Describe what you believe could be possible if communications shifted between you two; and 3) Then be curious, inquiring how they might envision your communication lines strengthening. That dialogue alone is a big step towards this end.

In Next Week’s Post: The power of connection

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