Ep. 112- The Story of You: Show vs. Tell

I’ve had several conversations lately about the transparency of information, and I wanted to explore here, in this conversation today, more about the fine lines we draw when it comes to how much to tell when and to whom.

It’s important to note that transparency and truth are separate actions which can have similar intentions. As we explore this topic today, I am not advocating for anyone to be dishonest. Rather, I am encouraging you to consider the level of context needed for the situation at hand. 

The Bottom Line on Top of this episode is that you can maintain full integrity without having to always give full information. And when it comes to telling the Story of You, it’s okay to share the headlines and highlights vs. the transcripts and footnotes. 

If you find yourself overthinking, over-explaining, and over-detailing something, consider if you’re doing this for the other person’s benefit…or for your own. 

If the other person is demanding details, there should be a really good reason. For example, we owe it to ourselves to give our medical professionals a full and accurate accounting of the details they request. Your neighbors and coworkers? Notsomuch…

If you’re the one initiating the information overload, take a look at the motivation behind what you expect to receive as a result. Is it an effort for you to appear a certain way? Or are you trying to offset potential skepticism or criticism?

Confession might be good for the soul, but it can also be a conversation killer. When heavy details are required, consider when is the right time and place for them. They’re not usually essential on a first date or the initial job interview. 

Let’s look at some real-world examples and see where you fall in the transparency tango. 

So recently a good friend of mine was unceremoniously laid off from her high-level job due to some inter-office politics that led to her being the scapegoat. Crappy situation, for sure. 

Now anyone who has ever been laid off knows the ego bruise that comes with that crappy transition. And then there’s the awkward story to tell in the next job interview when the question comes up about why did you leave the previous job. 

In her earnestness to be exceedingly honest, my friend was checking the box on the applications that said she had been terminated. While it was factually true, she was doing this on the intake form in the system. Which meant, the form was going to kick her application lower in the pile before anyone had a chance to review her superior skills and qualifications. She is one of the most talented people I have ever worked with and learned from. 

Her high integrity made for a high bar. In this case, she was taking the high road too high and missing the exit for her next opportunity. 

“Let them see your talent for themselves,” I said to her. “It’s okay to leave that initial box unchecked and then fill in the blanks when you get to have an actual conversation.”

We all have elements of our story that can be awkward or painful, but that doesn’t mean they should be a forever penance. 

I was on a date with a guy who felt the moral obligation to tell me about the heavy baggage from his first marriage before he even tried to kiss me. “It’s the right thing to do,” he said. 

But here’s the thing, who is holding the marker that draws the line about the right thing to do? Is the truth setting you free or are you wearing rusty shackles?

The daily news cycle is filled with examples of the truth being optional, inconvenient, or elusive. But when it comes to our daily life, we get to be more than that low news studio bar. 

Another friend is looking for a new career. She’s a dynamo, and yet she has been self-rejecting opportunities because she doesn’t have a college degree. 

She has every other possible qualification and such tremendous talent yet was letting the fear of that one fact (even though it was true) stop her from being seen or considered in her full badassery light. 

So here’s my final nudge for today: Stop making the details into headlines. 

Not everything is everybody’s business. Show the world who you are, and the details will catch up. 

You get to be considered, hired, loved, and heard for who you are – not just what you have or haven’t done. 

Yes, that may have happened…And then we get to use the word “and”

Yes, and…

The truth has its place, of course, and it will matter to those who truly matter. Be sure not to make too much room for too much information that you take away room for open opportunities. 

So where you can, re-write the headlines, or at least change the size of the font. 

We are more than the details, and our stories are still being written. 

Here’s to a lot more Yes And in our days ahead. 

Your brain is hungry. Give it some intellectual snacks in the
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I'm Kristin

I left my corporate work and dove further into how to navigate this noisy, digital, exhausted world. The result is a methodology centered on communications, productivity, and culture that blends theory with practice and helps people better enjoy the life they worked so hard to get.