In a time of virtual everything, and Chat GPT, the superpower that you can hone that will ensure you are appreciated at work is very…human.
By Stefanie Ince
Clients come to me for coaching for a variety of reasons. Often its to gain clarity on next steps, sometimes its to level up their leadership and/or get support as they transition into a new or more senior role, occasionally its about positioning themselves for the job they want or help with setting themselves apart as a candidate.
In all of these coaching conversations, we eventually arrive at the same place. I encourage them to be brave enough to see the truth and confident enough to speak it out loud.
I was helping to prepare a client for a big interview recently, and he asked; “what do I tell them about the gaps in my resume?” I said: Tell the truth. Yes, in the best possible light, and yes in a way that is going to best position you for this job, but still…the truth. When a recruiter asks you about the areas that are ‘growth opportunities’ for you, when a colleague asks your opinion about a project, when you’re offered a job that is technically a promotion, but its not the one you want. The best course of action in all of those instances is to let yourself be honest. It will be ugly, uncomfortable, and sometimes it will make you awkward, but its going to work out better for everyone in the long run.
The truth is the truth
By letting yourself be seen as you are, a lot of the nervousness and anxiety that comes from pretending to be the person you think people want to see is reduced. Simply put it makes every subsequent conversation easier. Your conversations are more authentic, and when people decide to say ‘yes’ to you, they are actually saying ‘yes’ to YOU.
The truth is the hardest part. The reason most people are hesitant to tell the truth, I think, it is that they worry that they aren’t going be what they think people want them to be. If you can overcome this fear (or not, but do it anyway), you’re arriving as you are, and trusting that it will either work for you or not work for you, and that’s okay. I often compare this to dating. At the beginning of a new relationship, if you pretend you love rock climbing, or camping when you don’t – you are stuck rock climbing and camping! If you’re honest from the start, you may not have as many options, but you’ll have the options that are the best options for you.
Truth telling may sound easy in theory, but its really quite difficult, especially if you’re not used to it. Here are some tips to help make truth-telling a little easier:
When you have an instinct to not tell the whole truth, get curious about it. Often (for me), my instincts about not being completely honest, comes from a desire to please others, or avoid conflict and unnecessary drama. Whatever the reason, if I feel driven to not be completely honest, that says something – there is something in that instinct that has a lot of value. Try to challenge yourself to notice every time you want to not be completely honest with yourself or with others. And then, despite the discomfort, go ahead and truth-tell anyway.
Practice makes perfect. Telling the truth well, in a way that will not trigger defensiveness, takes practice. I recently had a really difficult conversation with a colleague, and I was worried about how it would turn out. I stayed focused on my objective and tried very hard to keep emotion out of it. The more I tell the truth, the better the result. I can feel myself getting more comfortable with it, and that seems to resonate with others.
The most important part of this skill is first being able to actually see the truth. whatever it is, however inconvenient. I encourage you to try it out and see how it goes. And of course, if you need help, book a complimentary coaching session to learn more about your truth today.
Stefanie Ince is the principal of March Management, a certified leadership coach in Toronto, providing personalized, online coaching for clients for whatever part of their journey. She founded March with a vision to provide strategic coaching services that will empowers people to live their best, most authentic lives at home and work.