Openness relates directly to honesty, but also includes a willingness to adopt new ways of doing things. It’s taking a stance that (as individuals, as a team, and as a company) you have nothing to hide. Openness is also closely linked to authenticity, which is “the quality of being real or true” (Cambridge Dictionary). Emotional Expression, Reality Testing and Assertiveness are three EQ skills that will help unlock this in your team. 

Emotional Expression

Involves “openly expressing one’s feelings verbally and non-verbally” (MHS, 2011). In combination with Emotional Self-Awareness, this EQ skills enables you to identify what you are experiencing and share this with others. This in turn encourages openness as you do not have to try and guess what you or your team are feeling. Knowing that your team is willing to be open and honest in turn fosters trust. And trust makes it safer to be open and honest. It’s a positive upward spiral.  

Reality Testing

Is the “capacity to remain objective by seeing things as they really are. This capacity involves recognising when emotions or personal bias can cause one to be less objective” (MHS, 2011). This doesn’t mean seeing reality without emotions, but, in a sense, seeing reality “despite” our emotions. Reality testing involves recognising when emotions or personal bias can cause us to be less objective.  Effective reality testing you need to have the ability to accurately “size up” a situation. In other words, the ability to remove yourself from a situation and gain a bird’s-eye view or “balcony perspective” (Fernandez et al., 2012).  This is the challenge of seeing the subtleties and dynamics that usually go straight over our heads by taking a step back from the situation and trying to observe the whole picture. Effective reality testing can include observing others by their actions and words, and considering the perspectives, needs, biases and beliefs that motivate them. Poor reality testing is when you think of something in an “all or nothing” kind of way. This can cause cynicism, pessimism and over-analysis. 


Involves “communicating feelings, beliefs and thoughts openly, and defending personal rights and values in a socially acceptable, non-offensive, and non-destructive manner” (MHS, 2011). Assertiveness is a specific style of communication. To assert means to state your opinion, claim a right, or establish authority. It is expressing your opinions, needs, and feelings, without ignoring or disregarding the opinions, needs, and feelings of others. It can be helpful to think of it as standing up for yourself, rather than fighting for yourself or being walked all over. Developing your team members’ assertiveness allows for more open communication. It prevents passive-aggressive emails or outright aggression in meetings, as individuals learn that there is a way to express themselves without offending others.