One of the aspirations of any team member is to be able to truthfully and honestly deal with other team members. Trust will never be fully extended to anyone who seems to be hiding his or her feelings or holding back. This type of trust is especially fundamental to the relationship of someone who leads others. When this level of trust is in place, it allows encouragement and coaching. Most effectively it allows permission for one to speak constructive criticism into another’s work with less room for an offense to be taken.
If this is so important, then why is it so hard oftentimes? For most people, there is always a latent fear of saying something, even if it is true, that would hurt or alienate someone else. That’s not a terrible quality and I would imagine it is wired into us to serve as a necessary “think before you speak” filter. To lead or influence others, however, one must push past the internal barriers and take a relational risk. To do so often becomes the difference between deciding to live with less-than-desired results or the satisfaction of seeing people grow. How might we set ourselves up to best be candid with others and be more confident in it? Here are a few steps to consider:
Start with yourself. True candor can only come from a true source. How honest are you being with yourself? How well do you understand, and take seriously, where you excel and where you tend to get tripped up? It’s so common an orientation that it even has a name. The Dunning-Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which people wrongly overestimate their knowledge or ability in a specific area. Each of us must face reality about our strengths, weaknesses, frustration and anger triggers, base motivations and our blind spots. If these are areas, you want to explore then seek out assessments that can give you insights and especially the opinion of friends and mentors who will be direct and open with you. Understanding these aspects about yourself will culminate in an authenticity others can see and trust.
Honesty with God. As Christ-followers we must also be willing to bring our true nature to God, weaknesses and all. Proverbs 26:2 reads “Examine me, O Lord, and test me. Evaluate my inner thoughts and motives and challenges us to allow God to show us the areas that can use some work and focus on our lives. As we deepen and authentic relationship with God, we will begin to drop our guard there as well adding a layer of emotional peace and well-being that also will shine through to others.
Honesty with others. As we focus on getting the first two of these correct we can grow our confidence that our practice of candor with others comes from the right intent. Candor should never look to tear down but, with integrity, look to build.
Largely we want to frame our use of candor through the lens of whether we are looking to be a genuine help to a person or situation or do we simply want to be critical of something we don’t like or aren’t comfortable with so much so that we wish to tear it down. In the experiences of which I am aware candor, when framed properly, is largely well-received and appreciated. If one wants to truly lead and influence others the proper use of candor is an indispensable tool.