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Insights / August 15, 2016

Be Radically Honest

Be Radically Honest

By Casey Helbling

There is a moment that I think everyone has shared, though it’s not often spoken of in our day-to-day work. There is a moment that can come, sometimes quite unexpectedly, when one is radically honest. (Not brutally honest, for true honesty has nothing to do with brutality, but only to do with vulnerability.)

It can come with only a glance, it can happen with a stranger in a parking lot, or it can happen with a decades-long friend after a fight, or on a random Sunday morning while cooking eggs in the kitchen with your partner. And it can come with a client, or a boss, or a co-worker. It starts with being really, deeply, down-to-the-bone honest and transparent. You put your entire self in the room and say well, here I am. And the other person sees you, drops their defenses, and is radically honest and present as well.

And there is a moment of connection. True connection. Connection that may bring mutual tears, or laughter, or just a knowing, winking recognition. But mostly it brings relief. Relief at being deeply human and seen and accepted.

For the past year, I have made it a personal quest to show up more fully, more often. To let my guard down in encounters, to really look people in the eye and show them my whole self. It may seem paradoxical in the age of social media and oversharing, to need more honesty, but in my experience the social media persona is just another piece of your self: the work self, the Facebook self, the self you are with these old friends, and the self you are with your family of origin, the professional self, the irreverent self, the self that believes in things it never talks about in polite company. I have found, without a doubt, that showing more of yourself gives people the permission they need to be honest and present as well. Every time you are vulnerable in an interaction, it opens the door for the other person to meet you in that place.

So this week, take one opportunity to be radically honest. Maybe it starts with being radically honest with yourself about a hope or a fear you have been blocking out, or maybe the opportunity will come at a completely unexpected moment. You’ll know if you were successful or not if some weight falls away that you didn’t even know you were carrying. If, for just a moment, you make eye contact with the person, and behind the eye contact you’re both whispering “I see you in there. I recognize you.”