During the last session I had with my coach (yes I have my own coach as well), she asked me what my clients all had in common. And what quickly came up for me was a little frightening to say out loud.
“They are afraid to communicate 100% honestly and transparently.” It rolled off of my tongue so quickly and as much as I wanted to lasso it and pull it back into my mouth, I knew it was true. I was thinking of every coaching session I’d had in the past week, month, even throughout the year, and what I remember most is helping people to be comfortable and even thrive from being authentic and honest in their communications. It’s not that I think all people are liars; don’t get me wrong. But most of us have a really hard time being completely honest.
In one example, I noted a client who was in a virtual meeting with a team getting instructions on how to collect some information and upload it into a specific place for the team leader. My client was relatively new to the organization and was a little reticent to ask questions, not wanting to slow down the progress of the meeting. In addition, she assumed that the other team members, who had all been there for a much longer period of time, some of them years, surely knew and understood what the leader was asking and the specifics of how to do it. In fact, the leader asked if anyone had any questions or needed any additional clarity in accomplishing what he was asking of the team, and there were absolutely no questions. After the meeting, much to my client’s surprise, the other team members started sending messages to each other about where this information is supposed to be uploaded. In fact, none of them were sure and could only guess! Now they had some good educated guesses, but why wasn’t the question asked during the meeting? Their silence indicated that they all understood and knew what to do, yet that wasn’t the case at all.
How many times have you found yourself in this situation? You are afraid to ask the question because you think it will appear stupid, or you assume that everyone else knows the answer?
Here’s my analogy: Would you rather admit up front that you don’t know, and risk a little push back from your leader (if you’d even get any push back at all, more likely he/she will appreciate the clarification), or pretend you know and take the risk of completing the task incorrectly and really perplexing your leader on why you’ve decided not to follow his direction? Now, there WILL be push back.
Those few seconds of decision, of not being honest can cost you an enormous amount of time on the other end. Not to mention that your other team members will be so grateful that you’ve asked the question and now you’ve saved them enormous time and energy as well. Uncertainty and lack of clarity cost us huge amounts of time and energy. If we just set a standard of always being honest and authentic, life will get easier.
Most importantly, if you can’t be honest and authentic—then you are in the wrong place.