I used to think of myself as gregarious, out going. I recently went on my first girl’s weekend with my best friend. The very first evening, I realized she is the most transparent, open person I’ve ever seen.

We were walking through Times Square and she walked right up to an Army officer walking by and said “thank you.” 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 – on any manner of topic. Talking about where she’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 – you never know what type of interesting person you’ll meet at the bar. Moreover, she puts people at ease in an instant. They’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 organizations’ 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 aren’t authentic, where does that get you? You have to have both, otherwise, you’re doomed.

I think I’m pretty authentic. I say what I think, often when it isn’t politically correct. But really being open, is a challenge. I try to say what I mean. But am I proactive about it?

It’s hard sometimes to be transparent, particularly in my blog. I want to talk about the big discoveries we have with clients, but can’t use the client name. I want to describe key learning examples, but can’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 I’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.