Honesty and Transparency, or Authenticity

Honesty and transparency, often called ‘authenticity’, inspires the confidence and respect of others — and of yourself.

Honesty With the Self

Being honest with yourself first requires listening to yourself and developing your awareness of your own emotions, thoughts and instincts. (This type of awareness is arguably a precursor for effective business empathy.) Next it means setting aside, as much as possible, temptations toward self deception. In other words, it means identifying your own emotions, thoughts and instincts and then accepting that awareness — i.e., accepting what you find in yourself, whether or not you like the look of it. It might mean, for example, recognizing that the real reason why you cancelled a project was because you felt threatened by the project leader. Or it might mean accepting that you really don’t want to undertake a particular project specifically because it bores you silly.

On the upside, honesty with the self means improved self esteem and a reduction in the stress that occurs as a result of experiencing one thing in one part of your body or mind while denying it or distorting it in another part.

A good mentor or business coach helps develop this character trait by:

  1. Being honest with you,
  2. Exploring with you those aspects of yourself which you would rather not be honest about, and
  3. Exploring with you anything you feel may impede acceptance of yourself.

Honesty With Others

When you are able to be honest about your own internal reactions — be they emotions, thoughts, or plain gut instincts — you become not only more acceptable to other people (reflecting your own self acceptance), but also more comprehensible and trustworthy. People don’t wonder “what’s going on with her?”, or “what was that all about?”, because they know what was going on. They are less prone to doubt your judgements or your evaluations, because they recognize that you intend them genuinely — even if they disagree with you. The best managers and leaders don’t hide their real reactions behind a professional facade or veneer; rather, they display courage in recognizing and acknowledging them, and expressing them where they are appropriate to the situation.

Much like accepting and valuing others, honesty and transparency can’t be faked.

A good coach or mentor helps develop this character trait by:

  1. Being honest and authentic with you,
  2. Exploring with you any fears you may experience when being honest about your own emotions, thoughts or instincts, and
  3. Exploring with you the value your honesty and transparency have for other people.

This article was originally published by on and was last reviewed or updated by Dr Greg Mulhauser on .

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