When teaching effective communication, I usually find myself emphasizing the power of listening. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish just by showing another person that you care about their experience.
But recently a number of interactions have reminded me about the fact that good communication begins with having the courage to speak up, say what you’re feeling and ask for what you need. Then comes the time for open-hearted listening to their response. Having the courage to share your vulnerable and honest experience with another person is a way to honor yourself, the relationship and the other person.
Speaking up for yourself is a way of affirming that you deserve to be here and that your experience matters. The people around you benefit from your full participation. Sharing your unique perspective, your feelings and your desires is an important contribution to the growth and evolution of the whole world. What’s more, the only way to get your needs met is to speak up for yourself and ask others to collaborate with you.
Value the Relationship
By speaking your truth to another person you are also telling them that you value your relationship with them. When you share what you’re feeling and ask for what you want, you are communicating that you intend to bring your full self to the relationship and that you believe that the connection is a space for mutual support and growth. This is especially true at times when what you have to say feels difficult, vulnerable or challenging. When you do share your honest truth, you’re demonstrating that you trust them to be able to handle what you are saying and trust that the relationship between you can be a vessel for support and care.
Value the other person
Finally, taking the time and finding the courage to tell someone your truth is a way to model how you want them to show up for you. Being authentic, and then opening your heart and listening to them, is a way to express that you also want the other person to be authentic with you. Paradoxically, the only way to help someone grow or change is to demonstrate that you accept them exactly as they are. If you take the same care that you took to tell your truth and then let them know that you’re curious to hear their truth, their heart will open up right in front of you like a flower in the spring.
How to Speak Your Truth
For most people speaking up about what’s going on for them in a way that is both honest and non-judgmental doesn’t come easily. It requires you to really understand and then vulnerably unveil your experience. To do it well you have to share your experience as fully as possible. It’s also worthwhile to make the effort to only speak about your own perspective, feelings and needs (without interpretation or judgments), because that is the only thing that you can be certain of. Speaking exclusively your own truth ensures that what you say is unarguable, and it makes a way better story too.
To speak effectively, you will benefit by using the following tried and true guidelines:
1. Describe what you notice from your own perspective and without interpretation.
2. Share your feelings about what you’re experiencing (eg: “I feel sad, scared, angry, delighted, hopeful…). Own them as yours and try to avoid coding them with hidden accusations (eg: I feel attacked, excluded, ignored, put down…).
3. Share about what is important to you. Talk about what you really long for (eg: respect, fairness, reliability, acceptance…). Feelings are an indication that your needs are (or are not) getting met.
4. Make a clear request about what you would like to see happen. It’s important to ask others for what you want (not just what you don’t want), because that is the only way that they will know how to support you in getting what you’re asking for.
5. Then it’s time to listen to the response. Be curious about what they’re going through. Be prepared for the possibility of hearing “no.” Remember that you’re beginning a conversation and everyone gets to make their own choices.
Or even more simply said. When you notice that you're having an emotional response to something or someone, listen to your feelings, trust them and then share them with the other(s) involved. And then, in the spirit of honoring the other person and your relationship with them, respectfully invite a conversation to talk about what you're both going through. This will lead to deeper and more authentic relationships that are rooted in trust and mutual care.
As a conflict transformation catalyst and educator, I strongly believe that the quality of how we communicate in our day-to-day interactions directly impacts the quality of our life, work, companies and organizations as a whole. I teach workshops, conduct trainings, offer coaching and design custom transformation processes for individuals, teams, companies and organizations. If you think that you or your group could benefit from learning how to effectively share your truth, I’d love to talk to you about possibilities. Click here to schedule a free half hour discovery call. www.calendly.com/duncanautrey.