HIT Piece 11.15.2016

I don’t know.

The three words that kill any consulting, coaching, or training gig.

The three words that kill any sale (B2B or B2C).

The three words that kill any career around a meeting table.

We recognize the vulnerability, powerlessness, and transparency in the “I don’t know” statement. And in the face of workplaces, organizations, and even communities, increasingly hostile to vulnerability, powerlessness, and transparency, “I don’t know” seems like a time waster.

Better to just bulldoze through and hope for the best.

Destigmatizing the “I don’t know” would go a long way toward normalizing the fact that there are legitimate things that we don’t know, legitimate information that we don’t have access to (or understanding of), and legitimate perspectives that we don’t acknowledge.

And, to be the appropriate role model, I’ll start:

I don’t know…

HIT Piece 10.18.2016

Transparency means different things to different people.

Some people believe that transparency means establishing, maintaining, and growing connection to another person.

Some people believe that transparency means collaboration with another person or with a group of people.

Some people believe that transparency means authenticity, a species of “being real” or “keeping it real” in language, attitude, approach to an issues, tone or topic.

Some people believe that transparency means honesty and integrity—all of the time rather than some of the time.

Some people believe that transparency means refusing to “groom” a social appearance for the sake of other people, the crowd, or the audience.

Some people believe that transparency means being responsible and accountable—particularly when no one else in the group, the team, or the organization, will be.

Some people believe that transparency means acting with faith and hope in a future that could be, rather than complaining about the present that is.

The question on transparency is not one of who sees transparency through what lens, instead the question on transparency focuses around whether or not transparency matters—and in what context.

[Strategy] The Trust Deficit

Losing trust and getting it back—always a hard process—has become that much harder because of how we have changed socially in reaction to the presence of our new digital communication tools.

Credibility used to come from the work you performed, and from showing up every day, like clockwork. In the world of work, our workplaces, and in the world of communication, when everyone can show up, credibility is lost when consistency is abandoned. Just look at the world of lifestyle coaching, blogging, podcasting, and even the early days of adoption of streaming video platforms such as Meerkat, Periscope, and Blab. Credibility used to be built by sticking around after the “newness” of something wore off.  Now, in the constant, impatient chase to pursue the new, credibility takes a hit.

Transparency used to not even be a consideration in public communication. The public was happy not knowing the details of the lives of those considered to be “famous.” Affairs, cheating, fraud, abuse, addiction, moral failings: all of these used to be fodder for the arena occupied by scandal rags, “yellow” journalism, and gossip columnists—and dismissed, or viewed as scandalous in and off themselves, by “decent” people. But now, all of that has gone mainstream. And while there are a few people still around who value the old ethic of the personal and the private not being public, many individuals choose to transparently video stream, Tweet, Facebook update, and otherwise expose their reality to the world. We are arcing over to a time when how much you have been transparent matters more than what you have been transparent about. A place where the act of participating matters more for your credibility than the content you are sharing.

Authenticity used to be about the soundness of moral (or ethical) character, in the face of tough decisions no matter their impact. Sayings such as “He (or she) is bona fide” speak to the idea that being authentic was once about character—which no longer often gets commented on. This is not to say that character no longer counts, but the shared moral and ethical framework that undergirded much of societal cueing about who had character—and who didn’t—has gradually eroded away. Now the way we determine authenticity has become individualized, rather than corporately shared, and authenticity is simultaneously about ourselves (“I need to be free to be who I genuinely am”) and about negating a previously publicly shared moral and ethical framework (“Don’t judge me”).

Establishing, building, and maintaining trust in an environment of tools that reward impatience and a lack of focus, where the act of being transparent matters more than what we are being transparent about, and where authenticity has become personal rather than shared, has become infinitely more difficult.

But not impossible.

The way out of all of this is to hearken back to some older truths:

Credibility is about commitment and consistency, rather than about the shiny, the new, or the tool. Judgement about credibility should come from looking at a track record, rather than a snapshot, moment-in-time event.

Transparency has to revert back to being a sacred part of a two-way relationship, rather than either a selfish one-way act (“I broadcast to you.”) or a selfish two-way act (“We broadcast—or share—only with each other and our narrow band of ‘friends’.”).

Authenticity is the sacrifice that the libertine makes on the altar of the public good, rather than seeking to hold onto it all the time at the expense of the public. Shakespeare had it right about Julius Caesar: The sacrifice of being “on” all the time in public and in private is the ultimate trust building tool.

But all of this is hard.

And without getting our arms wrapped around these three areas as leaders, employees, and even individuals, trust will become yet another sacrifice made on the altar of our post-modern communication tools.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: jsorrells@hsconsultingandtraining.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HSConsultingandTraining
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/Sorrells79
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jesansorrells/

Santa’s Accountability Problem

Trust during the holiday season is freely given. It must be something about the charitable feeling and spirit around the  month between the day after Thanksgiving and the day after Christmas.

Whatever the psychological, theological or emotional motive this feeling of trust  springs from, the public is sure to hear stories in the news about organizations (the Salvation Army), corporations (any retail giant) and governments (yes, I’m looking at YOU Healthcare.gov) abusing this trust for nefarious means.

It kind of puts in perspective what was said here and here this week; but bear our indulgence on this point for just a moment:

Trust requires that the giver and the receiver engage in a dance of vulnerability and responsibility.

The giver must be willing to put down cynicism and suspicion and the receiver must be accountable and responsible.

The charities and organizations that are doing best—both now and in previous holiday seasons—are those that focus on the intersection between quality, accountability, transparency and relationship.

When trust happens between the giver and the receiver, a relationship is built up over time that neutralizes deceit, suspicion, obfuscation and irresponsibility.

And that’s a process that’s even more scalable than the industrial based processes that got us to where we are now.

Remember, it took us 100 years to get to this point…it will take at least that long to get us back to sanity.

Are you, and what you are building, up to the challenge?

-Peace Be With You All-
Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: hsconsultingandtraining@gmail.com