“Truth Teller” …add that to your resume.
We welcome our first guest blogger, Julie Griffin-Carty. A green-starter, Julie is a graduate of St. Michael’s College, currently working at Ursuline Academy in Dedham, MA. During the past four years she has worked both as their Director of Annual Fund and Director of Alumnae Relations. Entering her fifth year at the Academy, Julie has moved into the singular role of Director of Alumnae Relations. A self proclaimed “event geek”, Julie enjoys creating opportunities for the students and alumnae to network and learn from each other. An avid traveler, Julie has visited four out of the seven continents and hopes to travel to the remaining three in the next four years.
It’s the brutal honesty without the brutality that is incredibly valuable. As a young professional you are constantly learning and absorbing all that you can while trying to make a great impression on those around you. You’re eager to show that you were the best choice for the job. Learning how best to communicate with your colleagues, trying to anticipate requests from your boss and proving you can manage major projects is all part of the game while building your professional reputation. Blink and your five years into your career.
This past May, my small department added a new hire to our team. Excited yet nervous I watched to see how this new element would shift our team dynamic. While working together on our first major event of the year, I found myself playing the “Question and I’ll Answer for you” game. I had asked my colleague a question and as I waited for a response, I attempted to read her reaction while answering for her. “You disagree?” I asked. “No.” She replied. “Well it just seemed like…” and before I could finish she uttered a phrase that would shape our entire working relationship, “Listen to what I’m saying because it’s what I really mean.” This opened the door to a truly honest dialogue but required me to shift some of my knee-jerk interpretation tendencies.
It seems simple, to take people at their word. However, in a world with so many tools to communicate we still try to read between the lines, interpret what is truly being said in a meeting and see if we can guess correctly the emotions or opinions of our colleagues, and even our friends and family. How exhausting is that! Operating under the guise that what is said is what is actually meant takes some re-wiring of the brain but it is worth it. As my new colleague and I continued to work together, her “Truth Telling” trait allowed us to better understand one another, trust each other and strengthen our team.
In a world that has gone from letters to faxes to email to tweets, communicating has gotten complicated. TV shows have narrators who give a behind the scenes glance at what the characters are truly experiencing and feeling. In the real world however, the only narrator is your inner monologue assessing the situation and adding your own spin on the events as they unfold. Did your boss’s silence mean he/she hated your idea or that he/she is mulling it over and appreciates your suggestion?
This open and honest dialogue has allowed me to grow as a professional. It is a gift to be able to cut straight through the nonsense and ask questions like “Could you please help me?”, “Would you mind explaining that concept again?” without feeling ill prepared or weak. When you first start out in your career you’re eager to prove that your boss made the right choice by hiring you. One may think in order to prove this you need to know all the answers and be able to “do it all” by yourself. The true strength, the proof that you have what it takes, is being able to honestly communicate, ask questions and be a “Truth Teller” yourself.
© 2014 Julie Griffin-Carty, Guest blogger