To Ponder: Creating Permission To Be Honest
A large part of my work is ‘advisory’ – i.e. having deep, useful discussions with change leaders to help them drive more valuable change. But here’s the thing – these discussions only work when there’s a sense of genuine and direct honesty between both myself and the client.
Now, I’m honest and direct for a living – and it’s something I’ve embraced into my day to day life. But I’ve noticed that, usually quite quickly (often in less than half hour of first meeting me), the people I chat to are willing to share their own fears, vulnerabilities and hopes.
In short – they and I create a collective permission to be honest and vulnerable with each other, which is to our mutual benefit.
So, as I’m prone to do, I sat back with a lovely wine late last week and reflected with my (even more lovely) wife on how this was so… What were the factors that created this collective permission for honest vulnerability? After all, establishing deeper connections is a useful skill for any change leader.
Here’s what I landed on.
The 3 Factors to create collective permission for honest vulnerability:
First, there must be established credibility. It must be clear that the relationship will be valuable to them. This creates a peer-level power dynamic. Experience, reputation, and ideas come into play here.
Second, there must be demonstration of understanding. You must be able to play-back their situation in your own terms, and have them agree that yes, you’re understanding correctly. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and then play it back using “so, what I’m hearing is…”
Third, you must have an earnest desire to help. Not for your own ego, but for their benefit.
After those three factors are in place, you’ll find that your conversations will shift. You can provide more direct advice, stimulate more useful collaborations, and create more meaningful results.
Which of your conversations would benefit from more honest vulnerability?
How can you better establish credibility, demonstrate understanding and foster an earnest desire to help within your own change?
To Action: Bold or Guilty?
“No Guilt, No Fear, No Peer” is something that ‘Million Dollar Consultant’ Alan Weiss often repeats. It’s a mantra of boldness.
No Guilt – don’t feel guilty for sharing your view, your advice or your opinion. You’re not an imposter – you’re a human being with experiences, perspectives and thoughts that others don’t have. It’s not only your role to represent and communicate your thoughts – it’s often your duty to do so to create a better result.
No Fear – speak up. It’s just a meeting. It’s just a coffee. It’s just a discussion with another person. You’ll survive.
No Peer – your uniqueness is your value.
The amalgamation of those three results in a call to action: Be Bold! I can assure you that any career-related risk in your mind is likely overblown.
But here’s the caveat.
There’s a difference between boldness and arrogance – and that’s in your ability to accept and adapt to a challenge in your own beliefs, views or opinions.
It’s an artform, and one that takes active experimentation and self-reflection.
This week, take the opportunity to tweak and improve.
If you err towards fear – then embrace a ‘no guilt, no fear, no peer’ mindset for just a day. Try it on and you may be pleasantly surprised. Calm that amygdala of yours down.
However, if you err on the other side of the spectrum. If you tend to control and dominate discussion – practice shutting up. Ask questions, be curious and explore a view that isn’t your own.
To Reflect: Your Weekly Anti-Platitude
A conversation without mutual credibility is a favour.
A conversation without understanding is frustrating.
And a conversation without an open-mind is arrogance.