Who’s kidding whom? Something’s not right in the conversation. You have an uneasy feeling that what you’re saying does not match up to what you’re thinking. You’ve felt it before but you play the game (and play it well).
You’re stuck in a pattern; perhaps you’re too polite or too charged. You no longer feel comfortable speaking the stark naked truth. The “whole truth” lies hidden and false statements easily take truth’s place. It’s been such a routine you hardly know you’re stuck.
So, how do you get unstuck?
Interactions at work or in personal relationships generally trap people in fixed roles. Speaking with intimacy (confidence) is not easy. Throttling downward on a roller coaster with your heart in your throat seems more appealing than baring truthful feelings. It’s scary to admit, “I don’t trust my boss,” “This isn’t the right relationship for me,” or “I don’t want to be alone.”
Recently, a coaching client shared an incident with me. A colleague mustered the courage to share her opinion about a concern she’d been hiding (and losing sleep over). Expressing the naked truth made her feel vulnerable (even though this openness was a precious and rare authentic moment). After a few days, my client responded in an equally open manner (so far, this exchange is couched in courage). What came next caught my client off guard and abruptly ended the intimate conversation. The peer withdrew her head back into her shell and replied, “Well then, I just won’t be honest anymore!” This is a common response when people are learning how to create frank and open conversations.
In life, you get to choose whether you wish to censor your “truth.” But, you can’t penalize the other person for having the backbone to bare it all. It takes courage to break out of old assumptions and really listen to colleagues or friends. At work, the required exit interview uncovers the complete truth. The person comes out of his or her shell to expose the bare truth because they believe it’s needed and appropriate, albeit too late to construct changes. Choosing to reveal whole-truths by acknowledging the limitations of difficult situations or relationships takes courage!
Communicating with courage means you know what the mere truth is for you and you honor your voice by declaring your intent. Tolerance and openness takes commitment and practice; otherwise, we die not knowing our truth (much less the other person’s spirit). That’s why denial is saying no to courage. Most of us do not want to know what we know. Oscar Wilde said, “The truth is rarely pure, and never simple.”
What I am suggesting is simple speech, candid speech, telling it like it is in a mature and caring way—from your heart and spirit (the original definition of the word courage) versus adolescent huffing and bemoaning. In 2011, will you strip off complacency and ask: “How am I conforming? How am I selling my soul?” Answer yourself with a declaration to be honest in your thoughts, statements and actions toward others—and so to yourself.
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Sandra Ford Walston is known as The Courage Expert and innovator of StuckThinking™. She is an organizational effectiveness consultant, speaker, trainer and courage coach. She is the internationally published author of bestseller COURAGE and the recently released STUCK: 12 Steps Up the Leadership Ladder, and soon to be released, FACE IT!. She is certified in the Enneagram and MBTI®. Please visit www.sandrawalston.com.
Sandra Ford Walston, The Courage Expert
© Sandra Walston
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