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Leadership Thought #367 – Be Authentic and Honest In Your Communication

July 14, 2018

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The most important thing we do as human beings is communicating with one another.  Without honest communication we would have no idea what the other person is thinking or be able to fully express our thoughts ourselves. In essence, we would all be in the business of mind reading which is an inherently flawed skill at best.  We’ve all been there and wrongly jumped to conclusions about another person’s motivations without speaking to them first.  I’m always a bit suspect when someone says they are good at “reading people” because in my experience most people are somewhat complex and not always that easy to read.  I guess you could become an expert at body language and verbal intonation; however, the books I’ve read on these topics haven’t been all that enlightening once you get past some pretty obvious answers.  How many times have you thought you knew how someone was truly feeling only to be surprised later that you were way off the mark?

I find that most of us tend to avoid emotionally difficult or awkward conversations.  Instead of addressing an issue head on, we “beat around the bush” or try and avoid the issue altogether.  This puts the onus on the other person to become a verbal detective and/or force the issue – which isn’t fair to them or us.  Moreover, I find that many of these types of exchanges devolve into a passive-aggressive dynamic which is bad for the relationship.  Avoidance never works – it just delays the inevitable.   In matters of importance to you or someone else, when you don’t say what you truly mean (or feel), this is the textbook definition of being inauthentic.

Dealing with emotional discomfort is part of becoming a mature adult.  It is an absolute requirement if you want to lead people.  If you tell people what they want to hear rather than what you need to say, the relationship is beginning to erode anyway.  You will never feel truly close to another person if you can’t be honest with them.  And, you will only ever let your guard down if you feel it is a safe, receptive, and trusting environment.

This doesn’t mean you say everything that’s on your mind all the time without any filters.  Not everything you think is worth saying (or warranted) given the context of the situation.  You should also always check your intentions to make sure they are pure and well-meaning.   Sometimes we say or do things to hurt, not help the other person.  However, when it comes to any important relationship, default to being truthful and emotionally authentic.  Be real rather than fake.  Say what you mean and mean what you say.  All great relationships are built on a foundation of constructive dialogue and honest communication.