Recently, I was in a Google Plus Hangout about “Deflective Armor,” and how we all encase ourselves sometimes to avoid difficult feelings. Sometimes this armor is a thin shell and sometimes we wear a mask to hide what we’re feeling. I can really get behind this topic. Online, as an introvert, I very often don’t want to share what I’m feeling. Sometimes describing how I’m feeling is too complicated, and it’s easier to just say “everything is fine.” Other times, I simply don’t want to share. As I get more followers, too, sharing with thousands of people is very different than sharing with just a tiny group of close-knit friends. I may not be close enough to the person to want to share, even though sharing would of course make me feel closer. In any event, it’s a lack of trust (in a stranger) that is often at the heart of why I might not want to share.
How Do You Really, Really Feel?
Sometimes knowing how we feel can be a complex puzzle in that it requires processing to get to the heart of the matter. It’s complicated enough to talk about our feelings–and what about those times when you don’t know what you’re feeling, or you haven’t decided how you feel? Sometimes I have to think through and process for some time before knowing–maybe that’s part of being an introvert.
Barriers Can be Physical or Psychological
Some of the physical barriers we might put up include a costume–anything from big shoes, to a wig, to fake eyelashes–all of which can hide who we really are to psychological barriers (being too busy to get into one’s real feelings). Although revealing our true selves can always make us closer to others, we might not want to make the leap of faith to get there, especially if you’ve ever been hurt by someone online.
Lead through Revelation
Often I’ve found that being the first one to reveal what you’re truly feeling gives everyone else permission to be honest. Sometimes people “trade” a piece of truth for another piece of truth. Revealing a secret makes someone else reveal a secret, like it’s a form of currency. As kids in school, we like to tell each others’ secrets. “Shh! Don’t tell anyone!” we’ll say, even while we are betraying someone else’s secret. But if it’s our own secret, is it a betrayal? But how about as leaders? Don’t we want to be able to lead by being honest? A full 40% of executives say that they are introverts, as reported by Forbes.
How Do You Choose What to Reveal?
I don’t pretend to have all the answers here. Being honest can be a difficult dilemma online. How do you choose what to reveal and what to hide? Please leave me a comment! I’d love to know what you think!