As a reporter, I call lots of people and organizations to ask them questions. As a result, I encounter a lot of defensiveness. Walls. Resistance. Sometimes pissiness. There’s one transit agency in particular that almost seems to say, ‘how dare you ask me anything!’ when I call for information. (For the record, they don’t, I just can swear sometimes I hear that in between the lines of their defensive behavior) Even people that I have a good relationship with at government agencies often operate under a cloak of unavailability when they get a call from me and it’s obvious there are some questions they need to answer that they’d rather not. Yes, it’s frustrating, but it’s also part of my job. The thing I want to be clear to point out is it leaves me with a disconnected feeling, and since I report my stories on TV, I’m sure it leaves the viewer with the same disconnection and widens the perception of a gap between big government and the people. It’s that unwillingness-to-be-transparent-when-taxpayers-are-their-bosses thing that really eats at a lot of people.
One day while lamenting this, I had an aha moment. I realized that I also encounter this same defensive or evasive behavior from certain friends, coworkers, and over the years, people I’ve dated. Not all, but some.
I get it – it’s not easy to have the tough conversation, to tell someone I feel like we’ve grown apart, I don’t like what you did, or I want to date other people. Just like it’s tough to admit your company made a mistake.
Then I thought some more about why. Maybe if we weren’t afraid of what the other would say or of the fallout, we’d show people the respect of letting them know the statistics behind a 911 call center outage, or agree to a requested interview in an effort to be transparent to the taxpayer, or tell our significant other you don’t see yourself marrying them….ever.
There’s a quote by inspirational thought leader Brene Brown that says, “All the ways you keep yourself from being vulnerable truncates the size of your life.”
She’s right. If you don’t open up and talk and share, you can NOT connect with people. That limits the size of your life. And then you’re an island. If that government official or politician or coworker admitted their wrongdoing, “it was a mistake, it happened because of cutbacks, and we didn’t have enough staff to make sure our system was foolproof” you’d respect their honesty. After all, you’re going to think they made a mistake anyway once you hear whatever the bad news is, but to own up to it? That can only increase your positive view of them. You gotta respect that. Say nothing or say no to an interview and you’ve squandered that opportunity to make it right.
Just like if you don’t tell that friend, ‘Hey I feel like we’ve grown apart and I’m sad. Are you mad at me in some way?’ you can’t connect with them and that truncates the size of your relationship.
I’ve found that when I’ve opened up and shared with someone, it’s always brought us closer plus, I’ve always felt like I’m the best me I can be in that moment. I can be proud of my actions. But, when you evade, lie, omit, act pissy, who can be proud of that? Let’s make being bold and open the new black, shall we?