Real conversations and #SocialMediaEnvy

meerkat-854590_1920I seem to have become a fan of those property shows.

You know the ones where they purchase a property in  a terrible state, yet a few thousand pounds later it’s transformed into a dream home.

Always amazing and, for the price, jaw dropping.

You are left feeling somewhat envious, but with a hint that maybe you could, or should, do something like that yourself.

The same is true in social media.  Timelines and message walls of friends on Facebook, or LinkedIn often seem equally amazing.

Perfect sunsets, inspiring conferences, tropical vacations or reading engaging articles, everyone is doing it.  Meanwhile you spend all of your time in meetings, staring at the rain coming down in sheets through the window overlooking the car park!

Of course we are all pleased for our family, friends and colleagues when they have success.  It is great they are leading fulfilling lives and indeed it can also be inspiring.

However, it is all too easy to take all this apparent success out of context and think… ‘why is it so easy for everyone else….I want a turn too’…. yes this is, #SocialMediaEnvy!

Of course, social media is not reality (nicely explained in a blog post by Deborah Fike), however it does seem we have all conditioned ourselves, at least publicly, to only present a positive upbeat image, these days.

This is true even in the hard nosed world of business.  For leaders, being positive and upbeat is an important characteristic people respect.  Within teams peers like positive and avoid negative energy.  We need to appear invincible.

As a result positives tend to be accentuated and negatives suppressed.  This is true in many areas from meetings to business cases.  We don’t want to hear ‘problems‘, we want to hear ‘solutions and progress‘.

Yet, if every business update is positive, we are surprised when things go off track.
If all we hear is good news it is easy to feel fed up, like we are missing out.

In the absence of this real honest discussion, where challenges are shared, how can our own view be framed in the correct context?… It is extremely difficult.

However as leaders in business, and life, we do have a role to be authentic, listen and have real conversations.  Being able to have this balanced view of life helps.

Now I am not saying that we all need to start posting stories of disastrous dinners, financial challenges or bad hair days…. this is too much.

However saying something as simple as ‘yes, I have had that problem too’, not only helps the other person feel better about themselves, but also builds trust and makes you aware of a bubbling issue….

It may make you feel vulnerable yes, but with trust and an open dialogue the chances of building a supportive team, fixing issues and driving those positive outcomes dramatically increase.

So when you next find yourself engrossed in these daily updates of modern life remember; ‘Reality’ shows are also entertainment, Social media is not necessarily reality and having a good authentic conversation is still one of the most powerful tools we have to find out what is really going on.

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