Yes, the truth can set you free. And being real always feels right. But a no-holds-barred attitude on expressing every emotion we feel is not what authenticity is about.
Rather, it’s about conveying the truth without losing sight of tact.
If you’re sad, you get to be sad. If someone has done you wrong, it’s okay to tell them. The key to success, however, is not that you tell them—it’s how you tell them. That’s the only way to be authentic and spare your reputation from ruin.
For starters, you need to draw on tried-and-true communication tactics. For example:
- If you feel tears coming on, don’t dismiss them. Simply excuse yourself, cry it out, regain your composure and get back to business.
- When you disagree with a colleague, ask them if they’ve considered other options.
- Before confronting an angry rival, wait awhile. Taking a breather always helps to diffuse conflict.
- To ward off attacks on your character, use phrases such as “I wouldn’t say that” or “Not exactly; let me explain.”
- When sharing a strong opinion, choose your words carefully, keep your tone neutral and be prepared to give credence to your opponent.
Before you act . . .
Remember that full disclosure and authenticity are not one in the same. You can be real—and tell the truth—without baring your soul. Practice moderation to avoid regrets.