This post is part of our Weekly Tips series.

I led a workshop just last week for a group of super smart people in a super high-tech industry. We talked right away about how trust is personal, as usual. And right away, the question arose, “But when do you know if you’re being too personal? How do you know where to draw the line?”

I’m never surprised by the question. It’s a valid one. Sometimes it’s hard to know where to draw the line, and it’s always important to be appropriate. It’s also equally important to stretch outside what’s comfortable, and it’s pretty much always uncomfortable for people who’d rather deal with bits and bytes to engage with others in a more intimate way. (Yes, I use the word “intimate” intentionally.)

[Tweet “(Foul language alert) How to know if you’re getting too personal: #getreal #communication”]

The group’s leader was in the room—the head of the entire consulting arm of this tech-savvy firm—and his answer to, “How do you know where to draw the line?” was immediate and straightforward:

“Don’t be weird. And don’t be an a**hole. Everything else is fair game.”

What can I say, other than that’s just f***ing brilliant.

Make It Real

This week, look for opportunities to stretch outside your comfort zone to connect with clients in a more personal way. What do you discover?

Learn More


Read about why intimacy is not just a “girlie-man thing,” from our friends at Trusted Advisor Associates, or brush up on all four variables of the trust equation in Chapter 4 of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook.

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Andrea Howe

As the founder of The Get Real Project, I am the steward of our vision and our service offerings, as well as a workshop leader and keynote speaker. Above all else, I am an entrepreneur on a mission: to kick conventional business wisdom to the curb and transform how people work together as a result. I am also the co-author, with Charles H. Green, of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook (Wiley, 2012).