I recently started a guilty pleasure on Netflix, Selling Sunset. It’s a “reality” show that follows the real estate agents of the Oppenheim Group – one of the top real estate brokerages in the Hollywood Hills. The entire workforce (except for the owners) is about 6 20-30 something up and coming, competitive women real estate agents. So you can only imagine how things are positioned between them to spice things up (and get ratings). Complete and utter train wreck, though it actually teaches a great deal about workplace dynamics and leadership.
Side note, they absolutely need an HR leader because, for the love of everything holy, some unbelievable inappropriateness goes down in every episode. I literally cringe.
How Reality TV Connects to the Workplace
Well from the most obvious standpoint, it follows a company 🙂 To get more granular, one of their many arguments struck a chord when someone said, “well at least I’m being honest.”
For some backstory, there’s quite a bit of gossip that goes on among the team. It can be painstakingly awkward and uncomfortable. Long story short, two of the women were having a private conversation about one of their co-worker’s relationships. It later got brought up with the entire group. Drama immediately ensued (and understandably so. The topic of conversation wasn’t appropriate in any work setting). One of the women tried to be more delicate about this situation and soften the details, while the other was much more direct and forceful. Both threw the other under the bus, and as you can assume, it was an absolute hot mess.
So what does this have to do with honesty and [personal] leadership? The character who was being more delicate discussed what happened, but excluded relevant details that didn’t paint 100% accuracy of the situation. The other, who said, “well at least I’m being honest”, was more truthful about what the other woman said, but didn’t give her own whole side of the story either.
The crazy thing is neither were right or wrong. Clearly ineffective, but not right nor wrong. (Mind blowing, right?) They both presented their sides of the story based on THEIR truths. One happened to come from the vantage point of trying to skirt her full involvement and spare everyone’s feelings. The other came from wanting to get it all out in the open and present her truth as the only one.
Either can work because they both have their advantages (and disadvantages). The ultimate [leadership] lesson is to know that neither is good nor bad and that YOU possess both (and much more). It’s a matter of knowing which tactic to utilize and when.
Finding the Most Effective Angle
You may not always pick the “right” tactic, but there are some go-to considerations to keep in mind when unearthing “truth”/handling conflict:
- Your energy: If you’re approaching from the vantage point of wanting to spare feelings you’re experiencing “nurturing” energy. The pull to take care of others and ensure they feel OK, safe, [somewhat] happy. And potentially sacrificing your own point of view. If you’re approaching from “well at least I’m honest”, you’re experiencing “competitive” energy. You’re judging the other person, you feel compelled to win (at all costs), and you aim to take the other person down. You may “win” the argument, but damage the relationship.
- Their energy: You can’t guess or predict where someone is coming from nor how they’ll progress in a disagreement. The only thing you can control is YOU. You can pick up on where they are based on what they say and how the act, but you can’t fully know. That provides you the opportunity to adjust YOUR energy as warranted to generate the most effective outcome.
- Context: While the argument may be about one thing, energy presented could be something totally different. You can never know what just happened to someone before the conversation started. Maybe they just had a bad meeting or received an annoying email that set them off. Hell, you may not even know/realize where your immediate energy came from in the moment. While you may have been harboring nurturing or competitive energy (or something completely different), it could have just been amplified x1000 by some un/subconscious thing and you’re in a completely different space than even you anticipated.
What it all boils down to …
Any form of leadership is ALL about self awareness, which is the ultimate truth. You can be the absolute best at strategy development, presentations, delegation, organization, but if you don’t know yourself and how to manage YOU in any situation well then it’s all for nothing. Conflict and the “need for honesty” stems from our respective truths never quite being equal because we all come to any proverbial table full of baggage that clouds our ability to see anything else beyond our personal truth. Building self awareness, humility, adaptability, resilience, and empathy stem from taking intentional time to unravel our own mental, emotional, and behavioral DNA. Once we have a deep understanding of our past experiences and how they contribute to our baggage, only then can we move forward with our highest potential and most effective [personal] leadership.
Interested in learning more about your workplace DNA? Schedule an appointment to talk about coaching options or sign up to take the ELI assessment.