There’s a lot of talk these days of companies and corporations being more transparent in their business dealings. Businesses are making greater effort to allow their clients and customers to see what’s really going on behind the curtain, so that they will know the business is acting in a fair and ethical manner. If you set up a Facebook business page (which I have), Facebook automatically creates a section called Page Transparency. This section provides page visitors with information such as when the page was created, whether or not the page name has changed, etc. It helps the page visitor to know a little more about the business they are dealing with. Perhaps some things that the business itself has neglected to mention. But what about personal transparency. Should we as individuals be transparent to the people we are dealing with?
It was one of my greatest mentors that taught me the importance of being transparent. He helped me to understand how important it is to be my true self, for all to see, all the time. Now it’s important to understand that being transparent doesn’t mean that we have to tell everyone everything about us. We don’t have to tell everyone all of our deep, darkest secrets and expose all of the skeletons in our closet. By being transparent, I mean that we set aside pretense and regularly allow others to see who we really are. I don’t by any means claim to be an expert at doing this, but I do believe in the principle and it’s something I continue to work on all the time.
It takes a good deal of courage to allow people to see your true self. People might not like your true self. People might find your true self boring and uninteresting. People may criticize and ridicule your true self. People may even be offended by you being your true self. But on the other hand, an awesome thing can happen when you allow people to see who you truly are. When you present yourself to the world just as you are, flaws and all, you allow yourself to be vulnerable. Some people will see this as a sign of weakness. I see it as a sign of strength. When you get to the point in your life that you are ok with being vulnerable before other people because you want them to really know you, I believe you are showing great strength. And when you, with courage and confidence, show yourself to be vulnerable to others, you let them know that it is ok for them to be vulnerable. Wow! You’re starting to change the world!
Here are my top three reasons for personal transparency. Maybe they’re not even the top three, but I think they’re good reasons to be transparent.
- Being transparent is liberating. Being yourself is so freeing. If you don’t like to read books, then you don’t like to read books. So, what if other people think your less evolved than they are. You are who you are. A friend of mine once told me that he just believes in being himself. He said that if he’s always trying to be someone different, he might wake up one morning and forget who it is he’s supposed to be.
- I believe we can better gain people’s trust when we are transparent and allow them to see our true self. When people see that we are willing to be authentic with them, they are more likely to trust us. And many of them will have greater respect for us when they see we have the courage to embrace and be who we are. They desire this same courage.
- People will be more open and forthright with us when they sense we are being open and forthright with them. Maybe not everyone. Maybe not right away. But I believe honesty begets honesty. I believe the authenticity in others will respond to the authenticity in us. Others will feel more comfortable being true with us, as we are true with them.
I understand that we all want to be liked, accepted and included. So, we often try to present ourselves as what we think people think we should be and as what we think people will like. This way we avoid the criticism and rejection of others. So, we present this opaque version of ourselves and think that we are liked and accepted. But the people we believe are liking and accepting us don’t truly know us because we aren’t really allowing them to know our true self. We’re being what we believe they want us to be.
So, stop the pretense. Be who you are and let others see who you are. Someone is going to like you for you, and you’ll find that many people will accept you and want to include you…the true and authentic you.