Transparent or Needy?

By DiAnn Mills @DiAnnMills

We often hear the best way to communicate is to be transparent. Yet many people hesitate to use ihe ability for fear of being labeled needy. What is the difference between transparent and needy, and how do we apply transparency to our lives?

Transparent in written or oral communication means that we are allowing others to see through us for a distinct purpose. We are open, direct, honest, and sometimes blunt. The conversation isn’t about us but a means to help someone work through a problem or obtain insight. The transparent person is valued and respected because of their vulnerability offered in kindness. It’s an opportunity for us to invite others into a non-threatening environment.

Needy refers to a person who lacks the necessities of life, and the term is often used to describe the poor or deprived. Yet, people are often referred to as needy when they crave attention from others. It’s a form of selfishness that no one appreciates.

How far do we venture into transparency without appearing needy? That is the big question that often hits our radar. We want to help others who are experiencing a situation that is like one we’ve walked through. We want to offer suggestions and survival tools. But the conversation must be for their enrichment. Helping them rather than causing them to feel sorry for us.

Striking the right balance between transparency and avoiding the perception of neediness can be challenging. It’s important to remember that healthy relationships involve mutual support and understanding.

Not every person will be receptive of our attempts, and we may need to walk away if the person is uncomfortable. They may not be ready for help and have enlisted boundaries for us to follow. We must be sensitive to the other person’s needs and respect their acceptance or rejection.

The difference between transparency and neediness is a love for others. When we share our weaknesses and struggles, we are inviting others into a community where it’s safe and the person can find support, healing, and encouragement. In turn, they can help others.

We seek guidance from our Lord and listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 4:25 ESV:  Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.

A transparent person:
  • Admits their faults
  • Believes in sincerity
  • Leads others down straight paths
  • Listens with an open heart that doesn’t judge
  • Lives an authentic life
  • Models Jesus
  • Practices accountability
  • Prays for insight and wisdom
  • Refuses to fall into the trap of needy
  • Respects others
  • Treasures humility
  • Trusts God for all outcomes that are bathed in prayer
  • Understands God reflects and encourages transparency
  • Values self-awareness
  • Walks in integrity

How do you feel about transparency? Have you ever been criticized or rejected for sharing your experiences to help others? How did you respond?

Comments 18

  1. Thank you, DiAnn, for making the distinction between transparency and needy. The list you provided that details a transparent person helps to define this trait and shows us attitudes and behaviors we may exhibit that represent neediness to others. I have been out of town and got behind on reading so I am late at commenting. I appreciate this post.

    1. Thanks, PeggySue. Your key word is safe – trustworthy and a friend. Transparency in the proper light is an effective means to help others in need. Whereas giving in to the needy makes us an enabler.

  2. Thanks, DiAnn. A crucial reminder. The need to know, and, to practise the difference can make attitude and life changing behaviors.I can hand out things without loving or caring. Everyone needs love and listening ears, more than they need anything else. I thank God for those who sense my need for the moment through my transparency. I can meet people’s need for love, and pray that I will.

    1. Thank you, Frances. Like you, I know God puts the right people in my path for me to help through transparency or for them to help me. You are one f those special people God uses in so many ways.

  3. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten bolder about being transparent. I was a shy, insecure person from a child to a young adult. I was open and transparent with close friends only. One day a person that was often judgmental asked me why I didn’t have any children. I told her that it was my choice not to have children. She pushed, wanting to know why I should make such a “wrongful” choice. I quietly replied, “I feared that I would have mentally handicapped children and that I would not be a good parent. I love children so much and I didn’t want them to be ridiculed or rejected. Also, my sister always told me that I was so retarded, when I did something silly, and she said that my children would be retarded. She said that so much that I believed her. She was more favored by my parents, she gave them a grandson, and I wasn’t sure I could give them any grandchildren that they would love as much as they did her and her son. As I said before, I love children so much that I didn’t want any child to be rejected and ridiculed for having crossed eyes like I had before I had surgery or any other reasons for rejection.” DiAnn, that co-worker never asked me another question again. I realized being transparent was a weight off my shoulders because I wasn’t carrying around my insecure baggage. It allowed me to show what I’ve been through, and I could help others. I eventually became a pastor and a writer of newsletters. I have been transparent, and I choose to be transparent with the intent to help others.

    1. Marlena, your story is why transparency works: purposeful, not needy, and a way to help others. Thank you for sharing. Oh, the damage some parents do to their children.

  4. I like this. I have struggled with being transparent without being perceived as being needy.
    Thank you for listing the attributes.

  5. We are called to bear one another’s burdens. Just a few days ago a close friend confided that she was grieving for her husband who had passed a year ago. Her grief is heavy and causes her to worry that she will be alone. We talked and prayed. Her spirit was uplifted. I gave her some books from June Hunt on Aging Well, Grief, Loneliness, and Worry. Already, she is moving forward with the counseling helps and reading matter. Nora and I are transparent with our inadequacies, weaknesses, and issues. We are blessed to have one another to pick the other up when down or fallen. We pray, cry, laugh, and praise. We have strengthened our friendship because we can trust one another to be transparent. Please pray for Nora and myself.

    1. Dawn, you and Nora are sister-friends who are able to help each other through good times and the not-so-good experiences of life. I’m so glad you have each other. I have a dear sister-friend, and I treasure our transparency. I’m praying for you and Nora.

      1. This is such a helpful article. Sometimes God brings a one time situation where listening and sharing frees them of their long held burden and you never see them again. Thank you.

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