There is tremendous power in authenticity and transparency when it comes to who we are. These values are at the core of strong relationships that result in trust. Sometimes, however, things can get a little messy when our own pride and ego get in the way and trust — even likability — are seriously compromised.
Have you ever met ‘That Guy’ or ‘That Gal?’
You know who I’m talking about… That Guy who speaks uncomfortably loud in social situations so everyone can hear? Or That Lady at the networking event with the painted-on smile that invades your personal space and laughs at everything you say? Or That Know-It-All who makes every conversation an opportunity to demonstrate their superior intelligence and worldly connections?
I’ve met them all. You probably have, too.
I Shouldn’t Have
I had an experience several months ago with an individual who reached out to me about my experience as Chief Culture Officer at my former job. “Bob” messaged me via Facebook and expressed interest in learning more about what I did in that role. We agreed to get on the phone and share our experiences. I was very excited for the call because I love to learn and be inspired by what other successful people are doing.
On the day of the call, I dialed Bob. We exchanged a few pleasantries and then Bob started talking. And he kept talking… and talking. Bob proceeded to go on a 25 minute-long monologue, telling me all about his amazing training, his incredible experience, his brilliant education, his multiple degrees, his important connections… For the first few minutes I was attentively listening, even impressed because I was about to learn something life-changing. What I learned was that I was trapped on the phone with That Guy. Oh, crap.
I’m sure he thought he sounded just brilliant to himself. Except he didn’t sound brilliant at all to me. He was condescending. He was arrogant. He was artificial. And I literally set the phone down and waited for him to pause or ask me a question.
It finally came 25 minutes in to the call. Bob invited me to share all about my experience. I got 7 words in and then he cut me off. It was clear that Bob had no interest in learning anything from me. He made it all about him. He went on to tell me how I should join this group, how I should read that book, how I should…
All I could think about was how I should have ended this call 15 minutes ago.
We connect with others by being humble, transparent and authentic
Most people have little to no tolerance for inflated egos and know-it-alls. Instead, we connect by being transparent, humble and authentic with others who share the same basic values. These are the kind folks I choose to surround myself with. In fact, just this week I’ve spent considerable time with three people are, and I’m a better man as a result.
Be intentional about who you spend time with
Last Fall, I had an opportunity to meet one of those amazing people. We were acquaintances but didn’t know each other outside of some limited work experience. She told me that she was careful about who she chose to spend time with and that told me a lot. I admire that level of transparency and honesty. Nearly a year later, we have continued to meet and now are collaborating on some extremely cool stuff!
Another great conversation I had this week was with “a dude who’s just trying to be the best husband, father and Godly example he can be.” His words. And they inspire me! Instead of being the “dude” that has it all figured out, his humility and openness are refreshing in a world where we’re supposed to act like we have it all together 24/7. We talk about guy stuff, business stuff, dude stuff and God stuff. I greatly value that relationship. He also said echoed a similar sentiment about who he wanted to associate with; he said I like to be very intentional about who I invite to sit down with at the table. Authentic. Transparent. Honest. My kind of dude.
Direct, Honest Feedback
Thinking back to Bob (aka, That Guy) I missed an important opportunity to call him out and give him some honest, direct feedback. Bob was so caught up in his pride and ego that he was blinded to his own reality. The said thing was that I believe we could have learned a lot from each other. I’m hoping I’ll have an opportunity to meet up with Bob again in the future and, if so, I’ll have the courage to give him that feedback.
The great leadership and personal growth guru, Jim Rohn said, “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” So who are you surrounding yourself with? Are there some relationships you need to pour more energy into? Are there some that you need to put a lot less energy into? Maybe there’s some relationships you need to end. Or maybe you just need to be honest with a few select individuals and tell them why they’re a pain to be around.
Whatever you need to do, make it happen. You’ll be better off as a result. And so will they.