To Thine Own Self Be True
I work with people all the time, it is one of the joys of my vocation, but like everyone else I experience occasions when communication is difficult and knotty. Those instances when, even with the full force of best intentions, I am misinterpreted.
It is a fact of life that we aren’t simpatico with everyone we meet ... Ripples of past occurrences – however fleeting – can quickly colour a relationship, casting a murky pall over a potential connection. We all do it, we’re the products of our experiences after all, but miscommunication, and the feeling of being misunderstood or misrepresented, can be keen and sharp.
This doesn’t only happen in interpersonal connections of course, as creative people and creative businesses, we too can feel misrepresented, misunderstood and unheard. In the latter, thankfully, we have agency to do something! To lessen the chances of a future misfiring. We may not be offered the luxury to mend previous missteps, but we can make positive provision so we don’t repeat them.
How do we achieve this? By sharing who we are – and what we do – with clarity. Not by dulling ourselves and deliberately diluting what we stand for to avoid discomfort, but by doing the opposite. Ensuring we speak with greater clarity, with more specificity. And we do this by being authentic. By honouring what it is we believe and employing acceptance; acceptance that whatever someone thinks and says about us doesn’t make it true, and if a person doesn’t appreciate our worth, perhaps there is more work we can do to ensure we truly represent ourselves going forward.
This level of honesty will forge strong connections, but it will also, necessarily, turn people away. This is GOOD. By being clear from the start we can avoid those with whom we don’t chime and focus on those with whom we do. And, if we find ourselves in an unfortunate situation where we aren’t in tune with someone, we can graciously recognise where we ourselves may have made mistakes and give them room to do the same. Whatever then results, having been honest from the start, we can stand firm in a steadfast sense of self, wish them well and move on.
“To thine own self be true”. Shakespeare had it right. Mind you, so did Mama Cass …
“You gotta, make your own kind of music Sing your own special song Make your own kind of music Even if nobody else sings along.”