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Being “real” or authentic is a huge talking point in most offices today. But are we really ready for people to share who they really are or what they actually need? Episode 46 of Faithful on the Clock explores.
[00:38] - Episode background, invitation to revisit past several episodes for context
[01:06] - We tend not to talk about what happens if we’re thrown off by someone’s realness. We might not be ready to deal with authenticity well, and we tend to not talk about deeper issues.
[01:58] - We might not be well prepared because we still question work-personal boundaries, and because we are not sure if we should help given we are not trained the way professional therapists are.
[03:11] - Not responding well to authenticity carries risks, such as making the person feel like they aren’t truly heard.
[04:00] - We are obligated to prepare ourselves for authenticity. We must face ourselves if we want to face others.
[04:38] - Accepting that God already knows everything is a big component of inner work that helps in preparing to accept realness from others. God wants you to be real with Him 24/7, so much so that He sacrificed His only son.
[06:16] - Once you know God knows everything, pay it forward under the commandment to love your neighbor.
[06:50] - Trusting God to help is part of loving your neighbor; He’ll help you find the right techniques and words. The most important thing is to create a sense of welcome or invitation. Questions are a powerful tool for this.
[08:09] - Time is the biggest barrier to accepting realness, because we are conditioned in the corporate space that everything must be fast and competitive. People who really are ideal to work with will understand you taking care of your people, so it’s not as inconvenient as you might think.
[10:01] - Look at your company’s structure and aim for flexibility that lets people deal with real life and emotionally breathe. People should have strong communication networks where they know where to go and feel comfortable reaching out to anyone.
[11:20] - Because everyone can get tired from supporting others, it’s critical to ensure that proper mental health and self-care resources are in place. This will let people take appropriate breaks and get advice.
The big question around being “real” is whether we’re prepared to respond well when people try to be honest. We’re programmed to respond more automatically or superficially.
People generally might not be sure of where to draw boundaries when they try to be real or handle others who are trying to be. The ideas of work-home separation and leaving tough stuff to professionals both can make us hesitate or be uncertain about what to do.
Poor response to someone being real can make them feel like they aren’t heard and reinforce stigmas about opening up.
If want we to promote the idea of being open, then we have an obligation to prepare ourselves to accept people as they are. This includes learning to face ourselves.
Facing ourselves starts with understanding that God already knows all about us and still forgives us, to the extent that He sacrificed His Son to ensure we’d have no barriers.
Once you’ve faced yourself through God, the next step is to pay it forward and apply the second commandment to your neighbor. It’s applying the same forgiveness and empathy God gives to those around you.
You might not know exactly what someone needs, but you can trust God to guide you. How you help will be different for everyone, but creating a sense of invitation and welcome is important. Questions are a powerful way of doing that.
Your biggest barrier to responding well to someone trying to be real is time. Make a conscious effort to look at your business and provide the flexibility necessary to slow down and help in the moment. People who really understand that people are your biggest asset should not have an issue with this approach.
Review how flexible and communicative your business is. If the structure prevents addressing in the moment, rewire.
Pray and do your own inner work about how God sees you. Ask yourself, “How can I show others that they have the same forgiveness or value?”
Take time to go to others for help when you need a break and don’t skimp on self-care. By recharging, you stay ready to help others.
What’s coming up next:
There are a lot of unhelpful myths circulating about success. Episode 47 of Faithful on the Clock outlines the five biggest, along with alternative viewpoints to replace them with.
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Good morning, afternoon, or evening, everybody. This is episode 46 of the Faithful on the Clock podcast, I’m your host, Wanda Thibodeaux, and today I’m talking about getting real. We’ve got a lot of talk happening in the business space about being authentic and transparent, but are we really ready to handle that? And what’s going to happen if we’re not? If you value openness and honesty in your business and relationships, stick around, because I’m jumping into it to help you out.
So this episode, if you haven’t heard the previous two or three episodes, I’ve been talking a lot about the ideas of authenticity and transparency in the corporate environment. And I’ve been talking about some of the research studies that kind of support this concept that those things are OK and whether we’re really embracing the mentality around them. So this show is kind of piggybacking on that. I recommend that you go back and listen to those previous episodes to make sure you have the context for this one.
But the gist that I want to throw at you today is that, if we’re going to be real, if we’re going to be authentic, I don’t know if we’re really talking about what happens when we’re thrown off by what people reveal. Right? Like, people can have really hard, messy things going on that aren’t really simple to deal with. You know, you might have coworkers or employees that have trauma. You might have people who are struggling just to pay rent or who are held back by race or whatever it is. And definitely, COVID has not helped at all with any of this. And that, I don’t think we’re really ready for that. I think we’re kind of programmed socially, you know, if someone asks you how you’re doing, what’s the default? We typically say we’re fine, we talk about anything BUT those deeper issues.
Now, why do we do that? For me, I mean, I’m not an expert here. But I really suspect that it’s just because all of us have this question around boundaries. Like, I think we wonder how safe or appropriate it is to get into people’s lives on a personal level, especially because for so long in business we had this concept that work was work and home was home and they didn’t mesh. So we have this new behavior or ideology that’s kind of challenging those norms, and I think it just feels really weird. And on top of that, let’s just face it. We’ve definitely come a long way in how we talk about mental health and all of those things, but most of us, you know, we’re not psychologists, we’re not trained on what to do, so I think there’s this sense almost that we shouldn’t respond because we’re just not qualified and we might make the situation worse. And we do, even now, we do get this message I think from the mental health community that it’s best to leave things to the professionals who have been trained. But my thought on that is, you don’t really need training to be a good friend, right? You just need to pay attention and just listen with a little empathy.
But what happens when those boundaries do get blurred? You know, what happens if your coworker comes to you in tears, maybe somebody just passed away or whatever, and maybe they’re struggling to fit in with the team because they’ve got insecurities that go all the way back to when they were young? If someone comes to you like that, you know, they’re doing their part, they’re coming to you and being honest, but if you then don’t respond well, then I think the risk is that they then learn that if they are real, nobody really hears them. They can get the impression that it just gets reinforced, that if they’re honest, nothing gets better. And in the worst case, you know, if you tell them it’s not appropriate to talk to you, you just confirm all the stigmas we have around reaching out and that it’s not OK to show who we are.
So I think that if we’re going to tell people, be real, be honest so we can build good relationships, then we also have an obligation to prepare ourselves to be accepting of whatever they’re going to tell us. We have to get comfortable facing all of these really hard things that are in people’s lives every day. And that’s not easy, because we all bring our own histories and fears and biases to the table on that. If we want to face others, then we have to face ourselves, and a lot of the time, that’s incredibly scary for people to do.
So how do we face ourselves? For me, I know part of the work I’ve had to do is just accept in myself that God already knows the story. He knows everything I’ve been through, He knows what Sally from accounting’s done, He knows all of it. 1 John 3:20 says, “If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.” And then Romans 8:38-39 says, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 1 Samuel 16:7 reminds us, too, that God doesn’t see the way people see. He looks at the heart. And the message of all those verses together is that no matter how many warts we might think we have, God doesn’t leave. In fact, God still wants a relationship with you so much, that’s the whole reason Jesus came this Earth, because God wanted to make sure you could be real with Him 24 hours a day. I mean, think about that. God loves you so much that He was willing to sacrifice His Son to make sure you had no barriers, that you’d always be able to come to Him no matter what you’re going through. And I want you to be confident in that today as you’re listening, OK?
Now when you know that God knows everything already, that He still loves you and is gonna be right there beside you helping you out, what’s the next step? Well, then you just pay it forward. That’s what that whole commandment to love your neighbor is all about. It’s about you taking the same attitude God had and saying, “You know, it doesn’t matter what this other person says to me, it doesn’t matter what they’ve done, I’m gonna hear them out, and I’m just gonna try to be there and comfort them as much as I can. I’m gonna forgive them and I’m gonna let them know they still have value.”
So if you’re in that headspace, if you’re in that mentality, you’re gonna say to yourself, you know, I can’t be omnipotent like God. So I might not know exactly what this person needs, but I’m gonna trust Him to guide me with this person. I’m gonna trust that He’ll give me the right words, that He’ll show me the best way to help. And maybe that is being upfront and telling the person, “You know, I don’t wanna see you suffer and I want to connect you to a counselor or somebody from our HR team. Would you let me do that for you?” But sometimes maybe it’s gonna be just saying, “Could you explain that a little more for me so I can understand?” Or maybe you tell them, “Oh, my gosh, I can totally see how that would be distressing.” You know, it’s gonna be different for every person, every person has different needs, but I think it’s really important that you just create this sense of invitation, where you know, they’re not obligated to tell you anything else or do anything, but it’s clear to them that you are interested, you do care, that they can come to you without fear of judgment or punishment. Asking questions, that’s a really powerful way to do that, because it gives them permission to keep talking. It sends that message that it’s OK to cross whatever boundary they see that might keep them apart from us.
Now, if you’re going to try to do this? You know what your biggest barrier is? Time. Right now, everything in business tells everybody, you gotta go fast. You can’t mess around, you can’t waste a single minute. And that mentality, to me, creates this sense of pressure where it feels uncomfortable to slow down and really listen to somebody in the moment. You know, maybe Joe from tech loses it and breaks down, and instead of stopping to comfort him the way you should, your mind goes to, “Oh, no, I just can’t deal with a breakdown from anybody right now, I’ve got this to do, and I’ve got…” You know, whatever the agenda says. But what I’ll encourage you to think about is, I understand you want people to think you’re serious and committed to the jobs on your plate or the roles you’ve got. But if people are your biggest asset, well, then I’d propose to you that anybody who’s gonna give you a hard time for being there for somebody on your team probably isn’t somebody you really wanna work with anyway. You wanna be looking for people who value the way you try to connect, who value that you’re not gonna let people suffer in the name of profit or being first in the market. People who really understand, I promise you, they are not gonna have an issue with it if you turn in something Friday instead of Thursday or if you’ve gotta reschedule. They’re just gonna want you to communicate the truth. That’s all. You do that consistently and they’ll trust you and you’ll earn their loyalty. So don’t get wrapped up in this idea of it being inconvenient, because at the end of the day, when you think about the way your response is strengthening bonds between people, it’s really not. In the long run, you’re gonna make up for anything you lose and come out stronger.
So all that said, I’d just really encourage you to look at how your company is structured and ask yourself, “Do we really have time that lets us be flexible and deal with real life?” You don’t want to be in such a rush where people can’t emotionally breathe, OK? You want to build time into the schedule, into the day, so that people, if they need 10 minutes to get something off their chest, they can do that. You want to be willing to be flexible so if someone is really worked up when you’ve got a 10:00 a.m. meeting, you can maybe push that meeting out an hour or two so they can calm down and get ready to do their best. And within that, I think it’s critical to build up a really strong communication network. And by that, I don’t just mean that you have a lot of platforms like chat or email you can talk to people with. I also mean that you have a clear understanding of where people should go for specific things and that the entire team is entitled to talk to each other. You know, people need to know what the organizational structure is, when the best times to connect are, and they need encouragement from you to say, “OK, maybe you’re not my supervisor, maybe you’re not even n my department, but I’ve got this issue and I need help, and you’re the best person to get me through this.”
The last part of this is, like I said, handling all of this stuff, it is not easy. Not even close. And so I think it’s important when we talk about being ready or creating room for authenticity that you advocate for all of the mental health supports we usually talk about. You want to make sure that everybody has access to therapy or self-care resources so that when they need a break from helping and they’re the ones who need to be heard, that that support is there for them. We all need a break, and it is OK to say, “You know, I want to help, but oh my goodness, it really is overwhelming, or I just need some advice on how to do a little better for people who come to me.” You just have to remember, you can’t help anybody else if you’re not well yourself. So make sure you take care of you. Don’t skimp on that.
So to wrap up, let’s just take a moment and pray together.
Lord, we know from Your Word that you know everything about us. We might feel like we should hide, but the reality is, we can’t. But we can rest in the fact that You are always forgiving and want to be friends with us. And God, I pray that You will help us feel that acceptance, that You’ll help us pay it forward in empathy and be the loving neighbors You designed us to be. Help us prepare both our hearts and our systems for that compassion. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
That’s the last crumb in the cookie, I guess. Next week, we’ll be talking about 5 big myths people have about success. It’ll be an eye-opener, I think, so set a reminder to stream or download the episode, OK? Your job in the meantime is to go to @FaithfulOTC on Twitter, that’s the main profile on that platform for the podcast. Give us a follow so we can chat with each other, and it’ll let you see the videos and articles and all kinds of other content I share each and every day. I can’t wait to connect with you there, and until next time, be blessed.
Faithful on the Clock is a podcast dedicated to ensuring your faith and work align. You won’t find mantras or hacks here--just scripture-based insights to help you grow yourself, your company, and your relationship with God. If you want out of the worldly hamster wheel and want to work with purpose, then this is the show for you. Hosted by freelance business writer Wanda Thibodeaux.
Wanda Marie Thibodeaux is a freelance writer based in Eagan, MN. Since 2006, she has worked with a full range of clients to create website landing pages, product descriptions, articles, professional letters, and other content. She also served as a daily columnist at Inc.com for three years, where she specialized in content on business leadership, psychology, neuroscience, and behavior.
Currently, Thibodeaux accepts clients through her website, Takingdictation.com. She is especially interested in motivational psychology, self-development, and mental health.