I still remember my first ever in-person interaction with Matt Mullenweg, the CEO of Automattic. It was at a Grand Meetup in Park City. Matt stood directly behind me in the lunch line. I knew that this was my moment to say something.
About the only thing that I knew about him at the time was that he liked photography. So, I turned around and said something to the effect of, “So, you like photos huh?” Matt responded with something brief. And then … I turned around and that was that. 😂
In my current role, I am now responsible for a significant portion of the WordPress.com business unit and I report directly to Matt. Yes, Matt Mullenweg, the very same person that I couldn’t hold a conversation with years prior.
In this new role, I also interact quite often with our CFO, heads of design, systems lead, and several other smart and influential people.
How does honesty help?
How did I get from the point where I couldn’t start a conversation with our CEO to being able to have frequent conversations with leaders from all over the company?
First, time. 😄
Second, at some point, I realized that communication was so much simpler if I was very honest. Being honest doesn’t mean being rude or mean. It means that I present my ideas or thoughts as they are.
In this sense, being honest allows me to simplify the pipeline from idea to mouth and, more or less, completely bypass any concerns with what I’m saying, which seems to result in me being much less anxious when I have discussions with, well, anyone.
Sure. There are probably quite a few counterpoints that you are considering.
Is it honesty or courage to speak up?
Does this hold true across cultures? Professions? Industries? Etc.
How much does tact play into this?
I’m not suggesting that being honest by itself is the full solution. But, in my experience, being very forward and honest definitely does simplify things.