What is the most frequent lie in the world?
It is the answer to the most frequent question: How are you?
When I am lying, I am holding up a shield that protects me from hurting.
However, the shield is made of glass and only works in the short term.
If I use it for long, the impact becomes too big.
Then, the shield will shatter in pieces and the glass will painfully pierce my skin.
While I am bleeding, I realize that this ‘protection’ is what eventually hurts me the most.
Short-term comfort leads to long-term discomfort.
What is my solution?
Being more expressive about what is going on inside me.
Taking off my Professional Mask.
When my relationship crashed, I was having a hard time.
I wasn’t sure how many colleagues I should share it with, if at all.
Isn’t work about productivity, commercial goals and political interests?
But work is also about connection, collaboration and shared values.
I ended up sharing my personal challenge with more people than I thought I would.
I’m glad I did so, and in the next paragraph I will tell you why.
How opening up helped me
Firstly, by being more open, I helped people that were important to me to understand my situation.
The alternative was to hold the shield of glass in front of me.
As people would be able to see through the transparent shield, they would sense something was going on.
However, they would not know what exactly, because I would keep other people at a distance.
By being more open I prevented others from making wrong assumptions, when I wasn’t as focused as usual.
My colleagues were caring and my manager even offered me time off.
Secondly, by sharing more of myself I built stronger relationships.
If one person tells about a personal struggle, others are more likely to open up too.
Auto-pilot (“I’m fine”) = less connection.
Vulnerability (“Actually, not so good.”) = more connection.
Dump your big bag of garbage in every meeting?
I’m not suggesting to throw all your troubles on the table in the start of each interaction.
I prefer to share my story on moments that feel right, with people that I trust.
Sometimes I was worried we would talk about it for longer than I wanted.
However, I realized that this is not a good reason to stay closed.
It’s in my own power to change the conversation.
If I feel like I have shared enough after 2 minutes, it’s perfectly fine for me to say:
“Thank you for showing your interest. This is enough for me now. Can we now talk about your holiday in Italy?”
The strongest material
Everyone has tough moments.
In a corporate culture of "All is well" it’s hard to understand each other beyond superficial conversations.
Especially in this world filled with burn-outs we need a safe corporate culture where employees can speak up about their struggles.
This doesn't need to be a big issue in your personal life – it can be as simple as getting stuck with a task.
“I’m frustrated, because I can’t manage to finish this analysis. Can you please help?”
If I tell everything is fine when it is not, then I don’t just lie to someone else.
More importantly, I'm lying to myself.
In that case, my words cover the truth that I desperately need to know.
Look in the mirror
Whatever challenges – big or small – you are going through, take a look in the mirror to see how you behave.
Are you holding a shield of glass, hoping that it will protect you?
If yes, then it's time.
It's time for you to be courageous.
It's time to leave external protection behind.
It's time to realize that you already have a superpower inside you: