Apparently everyone wants it. We want to know everything about everything. We want to understand that reasons for all decisions, we want to know all the ingredients in our food, we want the ability to scrutinize the minutiae of every conversations that has ever been had.
Transparency is about being open, honest, and accountable.
On a macro scale, businesses are being held to higher standards and, as such, need to be prepared to open the books to rationalize and defend their practices.
On a micro scale, I believe that there is less clarity about transparency. How much is too much? How honest is too honest? When brought down to the level of a one-on-one conversation, transparency gets a bit murky.
If I can take a step out of the workplace for a moment and consider some of my personal relationships, I can attest that being more transparent and honest has not always worked in my favour.
I spent most of my childhood and a good deal of my adult life wearing a mask around certain members of my family – keeping the peace, being tolerant, not rocking the boat. And then after a number of life-altering and mind-numbing situations, I was forced to rethink this coping mechanism. And so I took off the mask.
The result has left me with more energy, more calmness, and a better sense of self. So far, honesty and openness seemed to be positive. However, this “new” me has created friction and confusion with some who would prefer that I go back to being a nicer person. Not so many points being scored here.
The reality is that I am not always a nice person, I can be moody, cranky, opinionated, stubborn, and sarcastic (for the record, I list this one in both pro and con categories). If I am going to have an open and honest conversation with someone, there is a chance that one of the above is going to make an appearance.
I will be the first to say that being honest does not give you license to be an asshole, but nor should it condemn you to being a mean and hurtful person. There is a balance to be had and that is where I was going with the notion of transparency.
Being completely open and honest is a good objective; however, this needs to be tempered with the risks that might be triggered by doing so. So, am I proposing selective transparency? Well….no…well, maybe…kind of…it depends.
Can you be transparent without revealing all? Can you be open and honest without saying every single thing that comes to mind?
In terms of businesses, is it absolutely necessary to lay all the cards on the table when there is no added value, but possible risks, in doing so? I am not proposing hiding details – I am talking about measured and tempered communication. Kind of like the old film noir that didn’t have to show every graphic detail to explain what was going on. Enough was said and shown to get the message across.
Now I recognize that every day communication and practices aren’t always that black and white (hehe), but I think that if you avoid the trend of hyping up every message with a light show and heavy bass beat, you might find somewhere in the middle that meets most people’s needs.
Of course, when it comes to transparency, it’s clear that you will never please everyone.