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The Power of Candor

How Getting to Candor Can Transform Your Life, Leaders, Business & the World

Let me share with you what my clients have said and what the research resoundingly demonstrates in terms of why this is such an important capability. Three things, problem-solving, psychological well-being, and personal relationships.

In terms of problem-solving, what my clients have said to me is… A lot of our clients are people in the talent and leadership development space. They said to me, “Well, regardless of the leadership capability that we’re trying to develop in our people, whether we want our managers to give their teams better feedback, or we want them to be able to lead beyond their authority in this matrix environment, or we want some seed of leadership team to function better.” At the end of the day, it all comes down to the quality of conversations that they have with each other. I’m fond of saying we can’t solve any problem that we can’t talk to each other about openly and honestly.

But I’ve read the psychological literature pretty extensively on this, and there are three things that the psychological literature continues to measure to assess psychological wellbeing. One, people’s moods, right? Two, self-esteem. Three, the degree to which they’re able to get their universal needs met. Universal needs, you probably know this, autonomy, relatedness, and competence. The greater degree to which a person is able to authentically and effectively express themselves, these things, all three of these big bucket measures of psychological well-being go up. When people struggle to express themselves authentically, aka to express the truth of what they think, these things go down.

What’s interesting about, I think folks like us in the helping professions, if this is true, imagine what a great service we can do for people that we care about to not only be expressers of what we think to be true, but also helping other people do the same. That’s the psychological well-being angle. But also I think relationships. I think this is more, I don’t know, what’s the word, axiomatic. There’s no relationship unless you bring your real self to it. I was talking to somebody who’s very close to me and she was saying to me, “I feel like I can no longer relate to my sister.” I was like, “Well, why is that? Because anytime I reveal what I really think and feel in my heart, she just makes me wrong for it and ridicules me for it and she’s not interested in it, and it has to be on her terms or no terms at all.”

I’m sure we’ve all had people like that in your lives here and there. If you have, I’m sorry that you’ve had, but it’s nature of adult life, isn’t it? Again, a little well-known psychologist, he’s really up and coming, Carl Jung, he’s going to make a breakthrough any day now, had this to say about that. He said, “Loneliness doesn’t come from having no one about you, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to you.” That was, I don’t know, I still get a little chills when I read that, because I can definitely relate to that. I think it is vital for our own ability to help people solve problems and solve problems in our lives for our own psychological well-being and the psychological well-being of other people and our own ability to help others and ourselves cultivate deeply meaningful relationships, which are so vital to living a vibrant life to unlock the power of candor and to cultivate our ability to not only express the truth of what we think, but also to help other people do the same.

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