I remember reading a book many years ago about the need to be transparent in relationships. At the time, the premise sounded good. Over the years, I have come to the conclusion that some things do not need to be disclosed. “TMI”, I shout! Please spare me from too much information.
There is a fine line between being authentic and transparent. One difference is authenticity should always be our priority, while transparency requires more discretion. While we want people to be authentic, how transparent do we need them to be?
My last blog posed the question about whether or not you are believable. I emphasized the importance of honesty, even about things you cannot share. Authenticity leads to believability requiring some degree of transparency.
Total transparency is uncomfortable, but at times necessary. It allows people see, listen, understand, and interpret the facts based upon all the relevant information. Of course, a judgment must be made about what constitutes relevance. Authenticity is being truthful and straightforward in a manner that is believable. It has two basic components.
- The message must be true and delivered with respect. Without truth and respect, your audience will be limited.
- The messenger must communicate in a manner that is true to their own personality and character without pretending to be someone they are not. (This is especially challenging to fish stories, reports of a weekend in Vegas, and resumes.)
Making a decision about where to draw a line on transparency begins with your intent. Do you withhold information to gain an unfair advantage or to avoid accountability? This is quite natural, but not necessarily right. If an intentional wrong is being committed, it should be considered wrong. Once discovered, it destroys trust. It is possible to maintain trust without being totally transparent. The key is discretion and avoiding the temptation to hide relevant facts.
Here are some things to consider when deciding how transparent you should be.
- Consider the context. Remember that certain subject matter may not be relevant to every conversation.
- Consider the culture. Discern what is appropriate in a given environment.
- Consider the audience. Some topics may be inappropriate for young ears.
- Consider the ramifications. Think through the consequences when determining what to share and what to omit.
Personally, I appreciate people who demonstrate discretion when determining what to share. I seldom want to know all the facts, especially if it involves non-relevant ancient history. I like the expression, “Let dead dogs lie.” Like you, I appreciate authenticity and despise fake people and the messages they convey. Be real with the facts and present it in a believable manner.
How do you determine your degree of transparency?