The word ‘openness’ often carries with it a strong positive connotation. Being open is seen as a beneficial characteristic, especially in a societal context. Think about how often we encounter phrases such as: “open governments”, “open data”, “open societies”. Nonetheless, what exactly does the word “openness” entail? It can be defined as the attitude necessary to learn new things, to encounter new people, and to embark on new adventures. It is the ultimate attitude that gives all other attitudes a meaning.
Many people are afraid of being open and transparent. I used to be quick to think others will judge me and try to use this information against me. However, it turned out to be a really jaded approach to living. I decided to practice openness in all of my life’s adventures. I am studying and living abroad. Sometimes I take a spontaneous weekend trip across the country. I applied for an internship I would not have immediately thought about. I also did some volunteering and went on an exchange in a completely different country. At the end, all my journeys taught me that my ability to be open is everything.
Being open is definitely necessary for your growth and development. For instance, the Problem-Based Learning (PBL) system that my university uses as a teaching method, allows for getting a more personally directed feedback and criticism than a student would normally get. I have received constant feedback on my communicative skills and professional behavior through my 3 years of Bachelor studies. Alongside this feedback, I have received positive criticism that allowed me to focus on what I could improve on, and which actually helped me to progress. Looking back, I can conclude with confidence that I have become a better group leader, and I learned how to stay focused during a group discussion, which as simple as it sounds, was actually a difficult thing to do. I have also grown to be more comfortable with asking questions when something seems vague, and to be open-minded to different opinions or suggestions.
The new skills were, later on, useful at my workplace. I felt at ease in asking questions to employers, regarding my responsibilities, and I found it easier to communicate with people on my team more than before. Being open helped me to have real conversations with people and to actually listen to what they had to say.
Even though open communication is an important element of successful personal relationships, workplace relationships are no different. This is because businesses rely on individuals in a variety of jobs with different backgrounds, education levels, communication styles and concerns. Acknowledging these differences and addressing each employee as an important part of the business team helps foster an environment of trust where workers feel comfortable voicing their concerns or asking for assistance. If I could give you just one piece of advice that would be it: Stay open to change, open to people, and open to your own shifts in life!