We have all heard the term “I am just keeping it real”. The term is used to allow a verbal filter to be removed. By removing the filter, the speaker can provide genuine criticism or provide details that can be thought provoking. The problem is not everyone truly understands there is a difference between being real and being rude.
Being real should be a communication in which the speaker is giving genuine authentic information that is true to them and does not cause intentional harm to someone else. The reason I say “intentional” is because revealing a detail that is an insecurity to someone can be hurtful. That is why it is also important to know your audience. Try to understand if someone has insecurities and are easily hurt.
The typical example is when you see someone struggling with weight, and they ask you to tell them how they look. Think for a moment what is the appropriate response. Remember the statement cannot intentionally cause harm, but they do need your honest opinion. A correct statement would be to redirect the person to answer the question themselves. Ask them the question “What do you think?” This way they can see the unspoken statement and answer the question on their own.
In a professional setting being real can border being rude regardless of the intention. There is a way to maintain professionalism and be genuine. Divulging important and personal details about your life is not necessary at work or in a professional environment. Making any comments that describe the way a person looks or behaves is also not necessary. In fact, if you know you are someone who may have the term “keeping it real” confused, you may want to add an additional filter when communicating professionally.
I personally have a tendency to ramble on and on until I have cornered myself in a situation where I have to provide more details than necessary. When I am not speaking, people who know me think something is wrong. This is one characteristic I work on in every social engagement. I want people to know the genuine me and not the unnecessary details.
Remember being successful is more about listening and learning than speaking to be heard. In fact, studies show that listening is the most important part of communication. When you listen more than speaking you can truly understand the difference between “keeping it real” or just being rude.
Juanita Espino B.S. Comm., M.A.Ed.
Communications Consultant and Professional Advisor