Be Themselves


Several years ago I interviewed a young man for a job at my company.  He was personable and seemed bright.  Based on his resume, he was exceptionally qualified and very experienced for his age.  However, the longer the interview went, the more he revealed.

For instance, while he listed his current job position as “Manager,” he later shared he was the “entire department” in a very small company.  I’m not really sure it could have even been considered a department, just his specific job responsibilities.  There were other similar issues that evolved as he spoke with us.

Despite all this, he still appeared to be technically qualified.  However, his own repeated self-destruction of his credibility quickly cost him any further consideration for the job.

I need colleagues that are both honest and that have enough healthy self-esteem to be candid about themselves and situations. Our work is not something that always brings clients good news.  The last thing we need is a consultant that is embellishing the situation or hiding information the client needs to understand.

There are obvious communication lessons in this story, such as the importance of trust, accuracy, candor and credibility.  There is also another less obvious lesson that is valuable:  If you will allow people to be themselves, they will.

It can be very hard to see the real person that stands before us.  In fact, sometimes it can even be hard for that person to see themselves.  No wonder communication breaks down.  Even before a word is uttered, there are disguises and projections of each person on themselves and on everyone else.  And there are our own preconceived ideas and sometimes false first impressions.

However, if you give people time and you watch beyond your initial conclusions with a  more open mind, you will learn much about them.   And if they are closely watching you, they will begin to see the real you (as good or bad as that may be).

Successful communication requires clarity and accuracy.  Smoke screens, lies, and misdirection are all obstacles that eventually lead to wasted time or dead-ends.

Sooner or later, the disguises and projections only work on those that pay little attention.


About the Author

Glenn S. Phillips works with leaders who want to leverage technology and understand risks within. An author and blogger, Glenn is often quoted in national media, plays a really ugly tuba (it even has a bullet hole) and is a fan of dark chocolate and great puns.