Authentic Sharing in Business Meetings
I have had the good fortune of working with a group of professional educators who have made creating space for authentic sharing a priority in every business meeting over the past three years. Setting time to settle in by sharing personal experiences, inner reflections, celebrations and challenges at the start of each meeting has enlivened our relationships, shifted meeting dynamics, and improved our performance so significantly that it is hard for me to imagine meeting any other way. We use I statements, practice active listening, pledge confidentiality, treat each other with dignity and respect and appreciate honest emotion. They have been key to making our group a safe place to authentically share. At the heart of our authentic sharing is the intention to create the positive benefits of trusting relationships, to invite the deeper layers of our human experience to unfold into something more, and to integrate who we are with what we do and why we do it. We find common ground by seeing each other as human beings first – heart, mind, spirit, and body.
What is Authentic Sharing?
Authentic sharing requires us to be mindful of our emotions and thoughts, release self-judgment and have a willingness to share ourselves with others. When I share my personal, tender parts of myself or those things that happen to be moving through my life experience authentically I am feeling a mix of vulnerability, trust and presence. I consciously open myself for others to respond to the truth of who I am and communicate with gentleness and self-kindness. In order for me to share authentically I compassionately examine and admit to what is true for me, and sometimes that is hard to do. Building self-trust and establishing a connection with those who can hear me at the heart level has been key to sharing my authentic self. In doing so we have created a sense of sacred space where we see into each other and share the realness of our lives.
Authentic sharing is never about our perceptions or opinions of others or complaining. Authentic sharing is sharing truth and trust, listening with empathy and interacting without judgment, expectation or assumptions. It is cutting away our identification with the “should-be’s,” “faults” and “blaming” that comes from comparisons with others, and finding resonance in our support of and connection with them. Authentic sharing has the power to cultivate richer relationships and make our workplace happier.
Authentic Sharing is Self-Discovery
If you are a private person, or you don’t like to talk about yourself because you are uncomfortable, know that you hold the power to manage the extent of your internal communication with the external world. It is up to you what you share and there will always be things that are off limits to share with others.
It takes courage, willingness and a bit of practice to befriend the deeper layers of your individual human experience. It is not possible to authentically share without facing who we truly are, and that’s risky because there are parts of ourselves we find it hard to accept.
Go easy and be gentle with yourself as you experiment in offering your genuine self. As you explore the idea of authentic sharing you are learning about yourself and self-acceptance.
When you are ready to share more of your inner self, turn off the inner critic for a little while and get out of your head. Let go of the fear of being judged and connect with your feelings. Think of authentic sharing as a way of embracing who you are, imperfections and strengths, and not worrying about what others might think in the process. If you can remember that each one of us has a unique way of looking at the world, of experiencing life and defining who we are then revealing feelings and longings becomes an interesting way of learning about and engaging with each other.
How to Practice Authentic Sharing in a Business Meeting
Authentic Sharing Activity:
- Explain to the group that the purpose of the authentic sharing activity is to build trust, open up to each other and develop stronger connections through honest personal sharing. Let them know it’s safe to tell the truth about themselves and that everything anyone says is held in confidence. Refer to any code of honor your business may have established.
- Ask everyone to actively listen while others are speaking, and that is not necessary to offer feedback or reflection; especially not until the person is done sharing.
- The most important aspect of authentic sharing is that everyone is genuine, whether they are shy and don’t speak very long; or a bit more lengthy in telling their story.
- Start the meeting by offering two minutes of silence and inner reflection. You can use a timer and a chime to start and end the two minutes.
- Begin by asking for someone to start by sharing something personal they have experienced recently, or you could prompt responses by naming the experiences to share such as “something to celebrate,” “something that impressed you,” or “something you’re excited about.”
- Give each person a couple of minutes to communicate their experience, and if it seems appropriate up to 5 minutes.
- Wrap up the activity by appreciating how openly everyone shared. Each person has given something important from his or herself, and let others share their important selves.
How to open up to share authentically:
- Pay attention as people share and thank them when they are done.
- Express appreciation for each person’s story or share.
- When it’s your turn to respond to the invitation to share authentically, take a deep breath and feel the power of inner courage flow through you.
- Tune into the desire to connect with others and welcome the feelings that lie just beneath the conscious layer of your awareness.
- Recognize that this is a safe group and space to share deeply.
- Make sure that what you share about yourself comes from the heart, and gives a real sense of who you are to the group.
Are you ready to go in a new direction and live your life more authentically?
Schedule your Discovery Session today.