On Being YourselfThe environment we create for ourselves is a reflection of the way we act – like a mirror. When we become open and transparent, others around us start to do the same. If we keep our feelings and thoughts and emotions to ourselves, this is a signal to others to also withdraw into their own shells…

If there is some anger, let it be open so that it can come and go quickly. There is no one more hypocritical and unpleasant than someone who harbors anger and bitterness but pretends to be smiling and friendly. If there is happiness and laughter, then share it whole-heartedly as this is infectious.

The truth is it requires courage, maturity and self-belief to achieve a level of emotional transparency. Most people resist opening up or displaying their true feelings – the ones where you put all (or most) of your cards on the table.

A man called John Powell did some compelling work on identity and self-disclosure that explains why most people do not open up. This is why: “I am afraid to tell you who I am because if I tell you who I am, you may not like who I am – and that’s all I have.”

Have you not noticed that those who are true to the way they are rather than the way they want others to see them are called “genuine” while those who wear masks to hide their true feelings seem hypocritical and fake? Isn’t it better to take a risk and show people who you really are. What is the worst that can happen? They actually get to know you better!

Personal effectiveness and management effectiveness research demonstrates that when people wear masks, or assume roles, they do not seem real and lose effectiveness with those around them. For example, when one assumes the role of a manager, one feels compelled to act in a certain way with the subordinates.

The more one veers away from being a person to becoming a role, the greater the stress one feels and the greater the decrease in engagement and commitment of those who report to you.

You see this absolute insistence of sticking to roles everywhere. Try calling Customer Care at your credit card company and you will get a long script before any reference to what you may need. Slick salespeople dive into a long monologue about the features of their product when you are not even sure you are ready to buy. And the list goes on…

The FIRST BIG SECRET is to interact with people is to remember you are a person and not a role. When you do this, others around you also start to feel more like people and less like manipulated human objects.

The SECOND BIG SECRET is that the more often you take a risk and show others who you are, the more comfortable and confident you become with who you are.

So here is the takeaway from all of the above: The more open you are, the less you have to hide. The less you have to hide, the more relaxed you become. And the more relaxed you become, the more effectively you can treat people like people.