I have told you before how honesty is one of my main core values. You may wonder if I am being fully transparent, especially when it comes to being honest at work. Who wants someone who always tells the truth? Well, being honest does not necessarily mean being rude or spilling the beans. One can still be honest and truthful to oneself without causing offense or oversharing.
Let me give you an example. Imagine that you are at a job interview and the recruiter asks you, how come you have this long of a gap in your CV?. Let’s say that you decided it was best to stay longer at home with your kids, or you had troubles finding a job. How would you answer their question?
In the first scenario, and considering one of the situations mentioned above, you would say something such as, It was overwhelming to work and take care of my kids at the same time. Or I went to a bunch of interviews, but I got no luck, and no one hired me. In both these statements, surely you would be saying the truth and even though no one should judge you for it, first impressions take place in a split second and people are often misinterpreted.
In the second scenario, you would try a slightly different approach and tell them, I wanted to invest my time with my kids before deciding my next career step. Or The job market is incredibly dynamic, and meantime I decided it was best to strengthen my skills.
Do you see the differences? More than seeing, if you try to say them aloud, do you hear how different the two scenarios are? In case you are thinking that the message is being sugar-coated in the second scenario, let me just stop you for a minute. Take a closer look at both scenarios and the statements in them. What do you perceive beyond the words?
Whereas in scenario one you are focused mainly on feelings and external factors (feelings of overwhelm and lack of luck); in scenario two, you are taking accountability for your decisions despite the external circumstances. You decide how to prioritize and invest your time, particularly when you may still be indecisive about your professional future; you show proactiveness in upskilling yourself keeping an active role in your job search. The second is not less true than the first. They both describe your reality, and you are being honest, nonetheless. What changes is how you tell your story, especially by taking ownership of your life.
As I mentioned, first impressions matter. Does it mean I can stop caring about what other people think the minute I get hired and just tell it how I see it? You want to be honest about who you are and what you believe, as you should. What you must not forget is there is not only one way to interpret a situation, or a challenge and other people will have their perspectives as well. Which also means it is not a contest to determine who wins the “most honest employee of the month”.
In other words, take your time to understand your surroundings and establish your ground, especially if you are new to the job. Even if you are already an expert, you are still entering a new professional setting where people do not know you, the same way you do not know them. Give yourself space and time to get acquainted with the people as well as their way of working, the policies, the structure. Your honesty is always being reflected as long as you stay authentic to yourself, regardless of your more observant posture.
After this adaptation period, if you feel you could do it differently and more efficiently, then by all means, share your perspective and ideas. Be honest in your way of communicating, while respecting others’ opinions and boundaries. Important to underline that this time frame does not apply if you witness something illegal or inappropriate. If that is the case, you must speak up immediately taking the matter to the appropriate channels.
You may have experienced reprisals in the past which have been refraining you from being honest and sharing your truth. Your honesty, your truth should never have a price tag. My honest opinion: If at your workplace there is no space to welcome your honesty – by always showing respect for others – then it is most probably not the right place for you.