The secret of transparency – getting others to open up to you – is very simple: you open up to them first. When you cultivate the discipline of living a transparent life, two important things happen:
1. No one has to take a risk to be authentic with you, because you are always taking the risk first. The secret of transparency is that your authenticity and unilateral trust toward them removes the trust barrier and allows them to freely open up to you.
2. Over time, you become comfortable and proficient at functioning in the place of authenticity. It feels natural to you, you are at home there, and when you invite others into it they feel at home as well. If it feels awkward or embarrassing to you to open up to others, that’s the message they’ll receive when they try to open up to you: “this is awkward and embarrassing. I shouldn’t go here.” I can’t overstate this: the more you live an appropriately authentic life – the secret of transparency – the more people will be attracted to you and open up spontaneously to you.
As a coach, your ability to help people go quickly to a deep level is crucial. If you are talking about surface issues, you’ll generate surface solutions and have a surface impact. Transformation only happens when you are talking about what people really care about. Here are some exercises for developing the habit of authenticity in your own life:
• Practice Going Deeper
Can you find one opportunity each week to open up to someone at a deeper level? Do it in an appropriate way, but push yourself to be more honest and take bigger risks than you are used to. Develop your relational-risk-taking muscle! For instance, when was the last time you were really honest with your kids about your feelings?
• Deepen Your Listening
To cultivate the secret of transparency push yourself to really pay attention when people speak. Make it your goal that when anyone talks to you, you treat them like they are the only person in the world (they have your full and undivided attention).
• Cultivate Asking Deeper Questions
Many everyday conversations can go deeper if you are ready with a significant question. Books like Asking Profound Questions or Leadership Coaching have great lists of conversation starters. To cultivate the secret of transparency learn to go beyond asking about people’s jobs or their kids to what is going on in their hearts.
• Meet Jesus as Your Healer
It is tough to risk opening up to others when you have a bunch of unresolved or partially resolved hurts from your past. Remember: your ability to open up unilaterally to others – the secret of transparency – is dependent on the depth of your first-hand experience with Jesus healing your relational wounds. Take an inventory: where is the relational pain in your life? Take it to prayer and ask for an experience of meeting Jesus where you’ve been hurt.
Tony Stoltzfus is a best-selling author, leadership coach, master coach trainer and director of the Leadership MetaFormation Institute. For more information on Tony’s best-selling coaching books go to www.Coach22.com