Why the brutal truth is so hard to say in the workplace

The expression “naked truth” comes from a fable in which Truth and Falsehood went bathing.

Falsehood went and dressed in Truth’s clothes, and Truth, refusing to take another’s clothes, went naked.

When there’s conflict in your life, you don’t make good decisions.

You don’t sleep well, and you end up stressed. You obsessively check your phone waiting for a response. Your mind isn’t in whatever it is you’re doing because you’re too busy weighing pros and cons, playing “what if.”

Relationships have a far greater impact on our pursuits and responsibilities than we might want to comfortably admit. We like to pretend that we can consolidate and separate, but the truth is that’s very, very hard. The best leaders know how to manage their emotions and push through, but that doesn’t mean they are still operating at peak performance. And with that, even the best leaders can only go so long without needing to either take a step back or make a drastic change.

Relationships, whether they be intimate or friendly, can be draining if not nurtured and taken care of properly.

1. Your relationship affects your mood

Bad mood, bad productivity.

If you’re upset, you are going to be upset with your work. If you’re anxious, you’re going to have trouble focusing. If you’re sad, you are going to struggle to be energetic with your pursuits. That’s just how it goes.

So it’s your responsibility to take care of the relationships in your life and be diligent about resolving issues that arise in the moment — instead of letting them linger.

2. Clear expectations need to be set

Relationships tend to falter because of one fundamental issue: unmet expectations.

If you set the bar low, and you deliver on that expectation, you still win. If you set the bar high and don’t deliver, you are far worse off. Part of maintaining a positive relationship (with anyone) is setting clear expectations — especially with intimate partners. Do not make it seem like they are the center of your world when you are trying to launch a startup and working 18 hour days.

Make that clear from the beginning.

3. Deception never lasts

Who you are is who you attract.

And if you are attracting people into your life by being your false self, then at some point the jig is going to be up. You can only maintain that “alter ego” for so long — and when it crumbles, it’s going to hurt you far worse than if you had just been honest from the beginning. (This can apply to any number of things. Apply as you see fit.)

4. A relationship can be a support system

A relationship as an entrepreneur, business owner, or just plain driven individual can be one of the most helpful things you could possibly have.

They are someone you can confide in, with no connection to your otherwise complicated and logical pursuits. However, the thing to be wary of is to not make the other person feel like an “object” you use to vocalize all your stress and challenges.

There has to be some give and take.

5. You need an outsider’s perspective

When your friends, family, and significant other all live outside your direct realm of business or interest, they inherently provide an outsider’s perspective that many times can be helpful.

They ask simple questions, they provide you an opportunity to explain what you’re working on in its most basic form, and they can often point things out you aren’t able to see yourself (because you’re “in it”).

6. Relationships are mirrors

This is often one of the hardest things for people to admit.

Whatever you dislike in someone else, you struggle with yourself.

Whatever irks you the most, that’s your issue — not theirs. Whatever frustrates you, or pushes your buttons, or makes you flare up in anger, that is a trigger of something inside you. If it wasn’t, then their actions wouldn’t affect you at all. Period.

When something triggers you, it’s your responsibility to take the time to figure out what that issue is and move past it.

This article originally appeared in Medium.