Telling a little white lie here and there in a friendship isn’t necessarily a bad thing – after all, we don’t want to hurt our friends’ feelings, right? It’s much kinder to say you do like their new hairstyle, even if you think it’s unflattering…isn’t it?
I’m here to tell you why being clear is undeniably kinder.
Before we go any further, we have to talk about who inspired me to start looking at clarity in this new way. I’m a huge fan of Brene Brown, the University of Houston research professor who has studied shame, empathy, vulnerability and courage over the last 20 years. She applies her findings to helping improve leadership skills, and has written a range of books including the incredible Dare to Lead.
When I first heard her talk about ‘Unclear is unkind. Clear is kind.’ I was blown away. It seemed so simple; we may tell ourselves that being unclear is being kind, but it’s actually the opposite. When you avoid being clear, you’re doing a disservice to yourself and those you’re speaking with. You’re not doing them a kindness, you’re being unfair and just plain not nice!
Going back to Brown’s book, Dare to Lead, she makes some interesting points about this very topic. She came to these conclusions after her seven year study into what the future of leadership will look like:
- Speak to people, not about them – to do otherwise is not kind.
- Telling people white lies or omitting part of the truth to spare their feelings isn’t kind like you think it is – almost every time, it’s more about making yourself feel comfortable.
- We avoid hard conversations by saying ‘I get it. I’m on it.’ and running away, because it’s more pleasant for us than dealing with anything tough.
- When you don’t clearly communicate your expectations to your colleague because you think it’s too difficult, but then you take them to task for not doing what you asked – that’s being unkind.
Notice a pattern? We’re not being kind by being unclear, we’re trying to protect ourselves from feeling discomfort. This form of protection is harmful to ourselves and, as I mentioned, is not being kind to others either.
The answer to becoming clearer and therefore kinder (as well as a better leader).
It’s to be brave, embrace the fact that life will be uncomfortable at times, and be clear in your communication. This doesn’t mean you get to throw the idea of tact out the window. It simply means that having the courage to be clear is one of the most important things as a leader. If you can’t communicate with clarity, then you can’t get the best results from yourself or those you lead.
Partial messages and half-truths do no one any good. You may feel ‘better’ for having avoided feeling uncomfortable, but you haven’t been kind to the other person. Leadership is about doing your best for others just as much as for yourself. Be brave and be clear to be kind.
If you would love to know more about how to be a kind and courageous leader or hear me speak at your event or organisation, please contact me at email@example.com
Sonia McDonald believes we should lead with kindness, from the heart, doing rather than telling and is known for her mantra ‘Just lead’. She leads by example in all these areas and through her one on one practical coaching, leadership training for teams and organisations encourages others to do the same. Sonia has helped hundreds of people on their leadership journey to become the best version of themselves and in turn, inspire and bring out the best in others.
For more than 25 years, Sonia has been on the front lines of HR. She has held leadership positions worldwide and through experience, research and study come to realise what it takes to be a truly great leader.
Sonia has an ability to speak bravely and authentically about her own development as a leader, personal and career challenges in a way which resonates with her audience. She is recognised as a LinkedIn influencer and has become an in-demand keynote speaker, starts important conversations.
She is an award-winning published author and writes regularly for publications such as The Australian, HRD Magazine, Smart Healthy Women and Women’s Business Media. Sonia has become recognised for her commentary around the topic of leadership, developing work-life balance, championing the up and coming leaders of tomorrow and advocating for women in business and male-dominated industries.
Sonia will give you peace of mind when booking a speaker. She is a proven world-class professional speaker with the skills to “rock an audience”. Her energy, empathy, kindness, sensitivity, and humour will enhance any event she appears.
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