Why are you really writing that email? Or giving that presentation? Or making that phone call? Why are you really in that meeting?
Sharing your genuine motivation means you’ll connect with your audience, inviting them to be candid, too. Afraid of offending them or seeming like a mercenary? e.g. “Well, I’m mainly here for the pay cheque.” Well, that’s a good instinct to have, but your honesty may elicit a similarly candid response from them, at which point you each start to really learn about each other: “Here’s the thing I’m terrified of” is a pretty good way to establish trust. Regardless of the situation, even if people don’t agree with your point or even if they’re offended, I believe that they’ll appreciate the fact that you were straight with them.
I’m writing this in an attempt to demonstrate my credibility, and because I enjoy writing.
It can be very powerful when you confess to something everyday which others can relate to, such as petty family disputes or silly mistakes you’ve made. The disastrous day when everything went wrong can become a story which gets funnier the more serious it is, particularly if it’s had a positive effect that you can then draw on, such as lessons you learnt and/or why you’re where you are today.
In a presentation situation, your confession of a mistake (which you’ve just realised in that moment) can be funny because it punctures the tension. This can be a wonderful way to connect with your audience by showing that you’re OK with the problem, which will reassure them that they’re in safe hands and that it’s not actually a problem at all.
Breaking Bad (News)
I’m sometimes asked how you tell someone something that they don’t want to hear. I believe that the best way to approach it is to be completely honest. Remember, there’s no result where they walk out of the room happy, so you have to consider how to make it as painless as possible. If they feel like you’re hiding something from them it could cause trouble.
One of a Kind
Honesty is not an excuse for rudeness, though; don’t think you can offend people because you’re speaking your mind. Leave your ego out of it – you’re taking the role of the kind parent, and whatever happens you must keep your cool. You’re there to help. Oh, and try smiling; be a human being who they can relate to.
The key here is empathy and helping people. When you give a presentation, the feedback from your friends and colleagues may be positive but not as honest as it could be, which makes it not as helpful as it could be. It’s tricky; you know that once you have a strong enough relationship with someone you can be completely honest with them about anything, which ultimately strengthens the bond as long as you’re not burdening them with stuff. Ask for the bad points so you can improve, and when giving feedback try to give as many useful points as you can.
Actions for You to Take
Think about what really matters to your audience. Why are they really there? What do they really want? They might greatly appreciate some honesty, learning and kindness.
Be diplomatic; directness is wonderful, but show them the solution to any problems, too.
Think about what matters to you, and convey that.