When Being Transparent Isn’t Always Clear…

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UnknownYou may pride yourself on such admirable qualities as, honesty, directness, integrity and the willingness to be open and transparent in your dealings with others that would make any prospective employer stand up and take notice. But when the view you have of yourself differs from how others perceive you, the disconnect can often have dire consequences. Being self-aware is an important attribute no matter what the situation but it’s never more important when you put yourself out there for a new job, a promotion or career opportunity.

You may have a charming and disarming demeanor with the ability to light up the room with a wink and a smile. Those traits may get you far on the social scene but knowing how and when to turn on the charm in a professional setting is equally as important. You may have a new boss, recently changed jobs or are in the process of accepting a job offer when you decide that it’s best to “tell all” in an attempt to either bond, connect or be “transparent.” Knowing your audience is the first rule in understanding when to offer too much information. You might think sharing your intimate thoughts, desires, likes and dislikes is a way to become close to someone, a way to relate, to connect on a deeper level. But when your “transparency leaves someone dazed and confused and in some cases offended by your lack of judgment and respect, you might scratch your head and wonder, “How did I misread that one?”

It might be hard sometimes to know what is appropriate when you think you are being affable and open particularly in a new professional relationship. By not understanding the boundaries, you can be perceived as inappropriate and lacking in judgment and or common sense. Knowing that every step you make leading up to and accepting a job offer is carefully scrutinized even before they start the reference checking process.

So when you think you are being transparent, check a few things before you move full speed ahead and pull the curtain back to reveal all.

  1. Don’t jump the hierarchy chain of command when you are not getting your answers met, ask what the appropriate steps are for resolving any disputes before deciding to take matters into your own hands.
  2. Avoid sending smiley faces, funny gifs and emoticons to show how you really “feel” trust me, they will get it without the elaborate icons.
  3. Try not to mix business with pleasure when you are having a relaxed conversation about the weekend and decide to discuss an increase in pay, title, benefits that suddenly turns your cocktail party into a hostage negotiation.
  4. Don’t make the mistake of assuming your new, soon-to-be boss is your best friend and in an effort to be “open” discuss things that are best left for your mother or your therapist.
  5. Knowing when “no” means “no” in any point of a professional relationship and understanding when it’s appropriate to push back and when it is not.
  6. Divulging more about your personal health, social or economic status to a prospective employer is not appropriate even if you have the promotion or job offer in hand.
  7. Cutting people out who are your allies and have been part of the decision making process because you somehow feel it makes better sense to be “transparent” on your own without any help or adult supervision.
  8. Not understanding the appropriateness of knowing when to keep your mouth shut and knowing when to push forward in an attempt to be heard or get what you want.
  9. Understanding that just because you feel “comfortable” in your dealings with someone does not mean you can step over the line and ask for something that is unreasonable or where you have already been told, “no.”
  10. Having enough common sense to know when to manage expectations, apologize when you overstep the boundary and offer up more than is needed or wanted and to know when enough is really enough.

Most people only have one shot at getting it right when it comes to a work situation. Some people are lucky and get a second chance. Being smart enough not to blow up an opportunity when you have a lot riding on it and to know when to read the signs will get you far in life. Just because you pride yourself on being “transparent” does not mean that it’s clear how and when to move forward. You have to develop better vision than being transparent if you want to be truly clear on how to move forward in your career.

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