The term emotional transparency is often used in the psychological world, but few truly understand its meaning. It’s a straightforward concept in that you don’t hide things, and you tell others how you feel. For instance, if a person makes a statement that upsets or angers you, rather than pushing it under the rug to collect with the other issues, you deal with it now.
Take, for instance, your spouse. You each do little things each day that irk one another. However, you don’t want to cause a scene or have time to deal with the issue, so you put it on the back burner.
While this helps in the present to avoid confrontation and a possible argument, it means that you’re harboring all sorts of unresolved feelings. When someone puts helium into a balloon, there’s only so much pressure the balloon can withstand. Once the object reaches its maximum capacity, it will explode.
How many birthday parties have you attended where balloons popped and frightened those all around? The same concept can apply to you. It’s not going to be pretty when you explode, nor is it going to be good for your mental health. So, by showing emotional transparency and handling the issues as they come, you’re protecting yourself and those around you.
Now that you know what being transparent about your emotions means, are you clear with your feelings, or do you prefer to keep things hidden?
Five Behaviors To Develop Emotional Transparency
Being transparent with your feelings and emotions can make you a better spouse, friend, parent, or employee. It’s crucial to develop this level of transparency to be trustworthy, as it’s always better that people know where you stand. Here are some simple behaviors that help you to develop your emotional transparency.
1. Be Truthful – Even if It’s Hurtful. Your Emotional Transparency Depends On It
According to an article by Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC on Psych Central, she states that the number one reason why people lie is to self-protect. This defensive nature can escape an issue, but it can cause a more significant problem down the line. You must be truthful with those around you, no matter how hurtful.
Consider this example. Derrick was married to Allison for ten years, and things in their marriage had gone south. He found another woman on the side, and she was everything he was missing in his current union.
Derrick wanted to spend time away with his new girl, so he told Allison he had to go out of town for a weekend conference. The lie got him what he wanted in the here and now, but he knew he was caught when Allison found receipts for flowers on the credit card. Rather than tell Allison about all the issues in their marriage that made him miserable, he lied to her.
This lie was the start of trust issues because he couldn’t be honest about his feelings. Derrick could have avoided much more pain in this hypothetical story if he had dealt with the issue truthfully. Instead, he decided to be deceptive and have an affair, which is why they probably would end up divorced.
Transparency is necessary, even if the truth hurts. It’s always better to rip off the bandage all at once than to pull at it slowly.
2. Be Dependable
Nothing makes people angrier than someone who isn’t dependable. What if your spouse told you they would do the dishes and take out the trash so you can rest, but you get up the following day, and neither of these things has been done? Sure, these aren’t major issues, but it just drives home the point that they can’t be trusted to follow through.
In your life, you want to be known as a dependable person. If you tell your friend you will be there at a particular time, they will count on you. You’re only as good as your word, so make sure that everything you say and promises that you follow through.
Sometimes, people have the best of intentions but take on too much. Being dependable is about showing up and being present, and it’s another way to show emotional transparency. If you say things people want to hear to get them off your back, but your words are no good, it won’t be long before people learn you’re not to be trusted.
3. Form Trusting Connections With Others To Build Emotional Transparency
Assume you’re a boss with over 25 employees. You answer to corporate, and you must ensure you meet financial quotas as well as productivity requirements. You need to learn your team and form a connection with each one.
In the process of learning each person and their personalities, you will develop a relationship of trust. For instance, if corporate sends a requirement for 50 extra cases of product pronto, you’re going to put your best people on the job. You know which individuals will do an excellent job and the ones that will leave you hanging.
You know that when you ask folks to handle the task, it’s as good as done. Consequently, you also know which employees would mess around, drag their feet, and do a lackluster job. Forming trusting connections is vital to learn a person’s intention, desires, and capabilities.
4. Communicate with Clarity
Have you ever had a conversation with someone and not got anything out of it? They weren’t clear with their intentions or words, so you’re left confused. When you communicate with others, you need to be clear about your intentions.
The ADHD child hears and perceives things differently than other children. So, rather than using a blanket statement like “Clean your room,” you would give them easy steps. You would list everything in easy to accomplish tasks, like:
- Make your bed
- Vacuum the carpet
- Dust the furniture
- Hang up your clothes
- Empty the trash
By doing this in clear steps, they understand, you will eliminate much frustration. Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) is an organization that helps educate people about this neurological condition. They state the importance of providing clear, consistent expectations, directions, and limits, as these children cannot read between the lines.
You can use these guidelines for everyone you come in contact within your life. They might not have a neurological condition, but they can benefit from directly speaking and giving clarity. Don’t “beat around the bush” when communicating with them.
Instead, be direct and use language they can understand. Now, you should never be negative even if the situation isn’t the best, as judgmental words will counteract anything positive you’re attempting. When you sugarcoat or dilute things, you’re leaving room for error.
Part of emotional transparency is telling someone exactly what you expect from them in clear and definitive language. When you’re clear, then there’s no doubt in what you desire.
5. Emotional Transparency Requires You To Always Be Receptive to Feedback
Feedback from others can be good, or it can be harmful, but you must be open to hearing the thoughts of others. If your children loved a soup you made for dinner, it would thrill your heart to hear about how much they enjoyed it. Also, if they don’t like the meal, it can help you learn to identify things they don’t like so you don’t make them again.
In the place of employment, management relies on feedback from their employees. Part of being in charge is knowing what works and what doesn’t. If you want to develop emotional transparency, don’t be afraid to speak what’s on your mind.
Your boss will take your words and use them as valuable feedback when you do it in the proper tone and manner. When it comes to life matters, your partner needs to know what works for them and what doesn’t. What if you always made your spouse eggs and bacon for breakfast on your days off because you thought they liked them?
They just ate the eggs and suffered through every bite to keep from hurting your feelings, as they hated eggs.
The problem was they weren’t honest, didn’t communicate properly, or give you feedback, and thus they were unhappy. Had you know how they felt, you would have gladly made them something they preferred. Being transparent can save you a lot of heartache and embarrassing situations.
Final Thoughts on Emotional Transparency
Now that you’ve learned why you need to be emotionally transparent, do you think you can implement these habits into your life? It’s essential to be clear, honest, have good communication, and give directions using concise language.
You’ve decided that you want to bake a cake your grandmother made for you as a child. The only problem is that she didn’t use measuring cups, and her recipe wasn’t straightforward. Things like a smidge of salt and a handful of flour aren’t precise enough to make a final edible product.
The directions were evident in her mind, but your lack of experience requires detailed instructions. It would be best if you had directness and clarity to make the cake as she did, and this is the jest of emotional transparency. How can you expect people to understand you and do what you want if you’re not clear with them?
Take the time to be truthful even when it’s hurtful. Be dependable so that others know that they can count on you. Form trusting alliances with others so that you know what to expect from them and vice versa, and always be clear with your words and intentions.
With some tweaking on your already great habits, you can learn to show more emotional transparency and have a better life.