I can see clearly now Sunset

“I can see clearly now, the rain is gone.”

Last week I wrote about boundaries, and one might argue that I left out the most important aspect of boundary setting: communication. Of course, when boundaries are externally facing, they need to be communicated to be effective.

Communicating boundaries can relieve a lot of stress. Clearly established boundaries manage expectations. Clients understand that calls and emails are returned during certain hours of the day. Colleagues know when to expect a response or delivery of a work product. Communicating boundaries also gives us the autonomy we need to manage competing demands.

This leads to a related topic: transparency.

Why is transparency important?

Transparency creates trust, and trust is the crux of excellent client (and other) relationships. Transparency and trust keep relationships strong and positive, even when matters go south. I recall a conversation with a litigation attorney who represented a client in trial and lost, yet the client continued to retain him because their communications were transparent, and trust had been established. (Sidenote: transparency and trust also prevent legal malpractice claims.)

Internal transparent communication, not just client-facing, matters too. Transparency boosts trust and engagement, and spurs collaboration when challenges arise, whereas failure to openly discuss difficulties often leads to insecurity and attrition.

Point made. How do I develop greater transparency?

Lack of transparency isn’t always intentional. When we’re not yet clear about an issue in our own minds, withholding important information may seem prudent. A better approach may be to communicate that you’re working through unknowns and that you’ll keep the other person apprised of developments. This may sound obvious, but too often, people who need information, or a status update, including no change in status, are left hanging and ultimately, subject to their own unhelpful imaginings.

We want to help our clients and colleagues “close the loop” on any open issues. While matters are ongoing, check-ins and updates, even those that say nothing new, aver unnecessary conflict and discontent. Want to sleep better at night? Create systems in your practice that keep clients, colleagues and staff in the know.

Transparency in communication has come up several times for me this week, both in business and personal contexts. All of these conversations went well, because transparency, and its companion, trust, were front and center.

Consider where clearer boundaries and greater transparency might serve you in your life. Together, they create an arena in which everyone thrives.


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