I used to think of myself as gregarious, out going. I recently went on my first girlâ€™s weekend with my best friend. The very first evening, I realized she is the most transparent, open person Iâ€™ve ever seen.
We were walking through Times Square and she walked right up to an Army officer walking by and said â€œthank you.â€ I was most impressed. At the Brooklyn Cafe she struck up conversation with our server, trying to wheedle her way into a recipe.
Everywhere we were, she opened conversation with people â€“ on any manner of topic. Talking about where sheâ€™s from, her family, travels. Comparing notes, admiring things about the other person. Almost always positive and smiling.
Given the opportunity, she would prefer to sit at the bar rather than a table â€“ you never know what type of interesting person youâ€™ll meet at the bar. Moreover, she puts people at ease in an instant. Theyâ€™ll tell their life story to her. And she absorbs it, word for word.
It was eye opening. I am not nearly as transparent as I imagined myself.
Transparency is a big topic in the communication world these days. Transparency in our organizationsâ€™ financial dealings, safety issues, product issues, customer interactions. Social technology has put a microscope on transparency, with constant monitoring, the ability for anyone to join the conversation and instant communication.
Authenticity usually goes hand-in-hand with transparency. If you are trying to be transparent, but arenâ€™t authentic, where does that get you? You have to have both, otherwise, youâ€™re doomed.
I think Iâ€™m pretty authentic. I say what I think, often when it isnâ€™t politically correct. But really being open, is a challenge. I try to say what I mean. But am I proactive about it?
Itâ€™s hard sometimes to be transparent, particularly in my blog. I want to talk about the big discoveries we have with clients, but canâ€™t use the client name. I want to describe key learning examples, but canâ€™t reveal the client industry or product or community. How much can I share and make it a useful lesson, but not contradict my non-disclosure?
And, when is it right to let non-work related ideas and thoughts mingle with the work stuff? What Iâ€™ve realized is that my friend is sort of like the very best blogger, only live. No written words, no fancy web site stuff (she is not a technophile). Just her, her ideas, her thoughts and her willingness to listen to what makes others tick. She is a master blogger, without the blogging.