My almost 5 year old granddaughter, Ellie, and I had lunch together yesterday.
“Logan [a boy from preschool] pooped in his pants,” said Ellie giggling.
“I doubt he wanted to do that. Do you think he was embarrassed?”
She shrugged her shoulders.
“Then he lied about it!”
“What do you think made him lie about it?”
“The other kids would laugh at him.”
“How do you think he was feeling?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, if you pooped in your pants in front of Claire (her babysitter) and me, how would you feel?”
Hanging her head, Ellie said “Uncomfortable.”
“Do you think you might lie about it?”
Slight affirmative nod.
“Sometimes it’s hard to be truthful when you’re uncomfortable or embarrassed.”
Although that wasn’t the end of our conversation, it was the point when the topic hit home for me.
I don’t poop my pants but sometimes, like Logan, my shit comes out when it’s time to tell the truth to a client about their behavioral patterns and excuses for why they can’t change what they say they want to change about themselves.
I came out of the womb a very direct person. Cultural norms for women stomped on that behavior pretty quickly.
I learned to hedge. I learned to keep my mouth shut (knots in my stomach & headaches ensued).
Being truthful was and is very important to me. Being nice was and is also important to me. Although, I KNOW the two are not mutually exclusive, when I was younger I chose to not make waves and paid the price of inauthenticity and lies.
But being inauthentic didn’t serve me, my corporate clients or my friends.
If I wanted to be a role model for girls and women, I had to change. I had to be me, which meant I had to be honest. Those less willing to be honest and direct would say I was brutally honest. (Now the conversation is back to shit, because that’s their shit, not mine.)
So I changed.
I provided honest and direct feedback to all my clients when I was a consultant. Sometimes I wasn’t asked back. Other times strong partnerships were formed. Those client organization grew from my work, as did I. I learned the power of positive conflict.
My present clients, women typically over the age of 40 and in the second half of their life, deserve honest feedback. They deserve to be told when they’re slinging shit about why they “can’t” make the very changes in their lives that they want to make. I want to be of service to them in making the changes they want to make.
My conversation with my granddaughter made me realize that a couple times recently I hedged. The client was emotional and what I momentarily forgot was that she was also strong. When she chose to work with me, she chose direct honesty, so that’s what she deserves and what I owe her.
How honest are you with your clients? With your colleagues? With your friends?
What issues or “shoulds” do you have about being direct and honest?