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Openness and its impact on relationships, trust, and collaboration

conscious leadership radical collaboration Aug 11, 2023

Openness, the universal key to simplified relationships, still most people find it hard. I don´t want to be too open, it makes me vulnerable and a possible victim of judgements, embarassement or rejection, it also puts me at risk of hurting someone´s feelings.

It´s safer to hold back and let "the other" go first.

I believe that to be able to practice openness we need self-awareness, honesty and self-accountability. We need to be comfortable and in touch with what goes on inside, in our heart, mind and gut.

An alignment between heart, mind and gut is a continuous practice of consciousness. It´s like a muscle that we use and practice daily. Loosing touch with this muscle can cause self-disclosure without the awareness or accountability. At the other end of the scale, it can lead to holding back information or even deceive others of your own truth. Both will damage trust in the relationship and it will be difficult to collaborate.

Story 1: A Lesson in Trust and Intentions

It happened to me recently that I was approach by a former executive that had started his own business. He initiated a meeting sharing his thoughts of exploring possibilities to collaborate.

When we met, he shared about his success in life and his humbleness towards people like me, women, and non-native Norwegian, that had met more difficulties in life than he himself had experienced. He shard that he now wanted to give back, help and support individuals like myself.

In the moment, I felt trust, honesty, openness. Then after our meeting he texted me several times focusing on how beautiful and attractive he found me and wondered if I wanted to spend an evening with him.

I completely lost trust in his intention to collaborate. He was saying something that was not aligned with his later actions. It was subtle, so I was clear to set and communicate my intention, which was to meet in order to explore opportunities to collaborate, which ended with a withdrawn invitation and a complete stop in communication.

I felt that what my mind, gut and heart was telling me was completely right and I had lost trust in this person.

In this situation, I practiced openness by clearly stating my intention. To be able to do that, I had to check-in with myself and know what I felt about the situation and also what I wanted. Only when I knew the answer to both, I could communicate openly.

Story 2: Navigating Collaboration through Openness

In another situation, I was in a collaboration with a colleague and we were preparing a presentation.

My colleague was very clear about what should be said and not, and I started to feel very restricted and limited with a fear to do or say the wrong thing.

I felt so much pressure in the situation, also because of time limitations that I made the choice to communicate how I felt, with the risk that the outcome might not be what I wanted, which was a friendly, fruitful collaboration.

I shared; "I am now feeling very restricted and I am unsure I will be able to live up to your expectations when you are so specific" - It was difficult for me to share my experience and feeling in the moment, and I shared that as well. What I experienced was an appreciation of the openness from my colleague and it made my colleague understand that there was a certain need of control from their side that needed to calm down.

My Colleague said; "I realize now that I am being too controlling, I understand that you need to say things in your way", the openness from both of us made me feel heard, valued, and seen as well as listened to and the self-awareness reflected back made me feel that instead of the risk of damaging the relationship, it was actually strengthened.

After the presentation we sat down again and evaluated how it went. We were both satisified and felt that our collaboration was even better because we could have disagreements, speak about them and solve them by staying connected to what was going on inside and be open about that in the situation.

In sharing these experiences, I hope to highlight the power of openness in different aspects of our lives and the profound impact it can have on relationships, trust, and collaboration.

The challenge lies in exercising the muscle of alignment between heart, mind and gut. Stop pretending both towards ourselves and towards others, be truthful, honest and open about what goes on, communicate your intentions. It makes collaboration and communication so much easier.

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