This article is about the workplace, and it 100% applies there, but I want to talk about it in a larger context.
“When it comes to encouraging open conversations, leaders need to lead by example. Speaking to HRD, Dr Nick Hobson, chief behavioral scientist at Emotive Technologies, revealed how sharing stories can facilitate a culture of transparency.
“Leaders can design a more positive employee experience when they are more vulnerable themselves,” he told HRD. “If a leader comes and says: ‘Look, I’ve had a terrible time. This has been hard for me. My kids have been home from day care and have been screaming in the background. I’ve had to try and work just to get things done. It’s been really tough. I’ve been of scared. I’ve been worried. I’ve been really anxious and stressed out, etc’, this makes a huge difference in helping your teams open up. Relating to your people on that on that human level makes them feel empowered and safe in sharing their own experiences with you.””
As I mentioned, in the workplace this is true. Very few people are going to feel safe talking about their own struggles if the leaders in the company never open up about their own at some level. But, it’s also true in our relationships as well.
How many of us wish the people in our lives, spouses, kids, siblings, friends and loved ones, would feel comfortable talking to us about their struggles, yet we never share our own? How would they know that you are a safe person to talk to if you appear to never have any struggles?
Let me give you a prime example from my own life. As many of you know, I worked from home before the pandemic started, and continued to do so all the way through 2020. It had very little impact beyond some lack of socializing, on my life, and so when I compared that to what many others were going through in 2020, I didn’t really want to complain about the things I was struggling with. Most people I did talk to, didn’t really talk about their own struggles either. Finally, however, when I wrote a post about not being OK right now, and shared it across my social media profiles, including LinkedIn, I got notes and messages from a ton of people, some who I haven’t even been in touch with in awhile, telling me about their struggles as well.
I attribute that to two things. One, I know a lot of amazing people who see someone struggling and immediately set out to make sure I knew I wasn’t alone, and two, by sharing my own difficulties, I also provided them a safe place to share their own struggles.
Isn’t that what it’s really all about?
So, what are you struggling with that you have been hiding? What good is hiding doing for you?