Transparency – a word I hear come up often in sessions with clients. What comes to mind when you say transparency aloud? Does it make you feel uncomfortable, fearful, or maybe vulnerable? For many, being transparent is important and expected – especially in relationships. Partners want their significant others to be open and honest in their wants and needs. However, being transparent with others may be difficult for a lot us. There may be times when we are fearful of judgment, unacceptance, or rejection when we allow transparency to enter in. We may ask ourselves, “What will they think, and what might they say or do if I tell them this?” Although transparency can be challenging, it is significantly beneficial for healthy relationships as well as helping to foster healthy communication and positive self-growth.
Being able to express needs and feelings is an important part of transparency in relationships. When involved in a disagreement with someone, try using “I” statements to help express your feelings. For example, Jack and his wife Sara have argued over how often he uses his phone when she’s trying to talk to him. Sara has tried to tell him he needs to put his phone down while she is speaking. But Jack responds with the usual, “Just give me a minute. This is important.” Take a moment and think about how Sara may be feeling. Sara is not operating in transparency by withholding how she feels or the message she receives while Jack is on the phone during a discussion. One way Sara could articulate her feelings might be: “Jack, I feel dismissed or unimportant when you are on your phone when I’m talking to you.” Sara is allowing herself to be open and honest about how his behavior impacted her.
I challenge you to practice transparency in any area of your life where you see it could help strengthen and even repair relationships. Remember – transparency can help build trust, security, and emotional safety.