Transparent, Translucent, & Opaque

Do you all remember being in an elementary school science class and learning the words “transparent,” “translucent,” and “opaque?” Well, now, as adults, it seems that we only use the word transparent but the other two are equally relevant.

If you need a brief refresher, “transparent” means that something can be seen through without obstruction. Simple glass windows, therefore, are transparent. Translucent means that light comes through but the object cannot be seen through clearly. Kind of like stained glass windows murky water. And then there is opaque. No light comes through an opaque object. You cannot see through a wall to the other side. It is opaque.

Now that we’ve had our science lesson for the day, let’s discuss how it is applicable to our professional lives. In any relationship, people say they want transparency. Not translucency and certainly not opaqueness. Earlier today I had my first status update at my new job (writing to you all on my lunch break) and in it, I realized that my supervisor is big on transparency in action. The open door environment of the office promotes that. A level of trust is given because it is expected that everyone be transparent. I like that though. I know, when I walk by his office, he is working just as hard as I am.

Be transparent in your work communications and expect transparency from those you work with. Being “ahead of” (for lack of a better term) someone else on the organizational chart does not give you reason to be opaque with them on topics that directly affect their role. You should at least always be translucent with your team. That way they’re not in the dark.

Gosh. I’m telling you, I could have been a science teacher in another life (were it not for the fact that it was my least favorite subject once I reached high school biology).


Make professional development a priority.


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