I cringe at how many times in my past I didn’t say what I wanted to say. Responded in a way that was with the other’s best interest in mind. Oh and how many times it backfired. Didn’t work out the way I wanted or I walked away with a knot in my stomach, looking and feeling like an idiot.
Sound familiar? You aren’t alone.
I meet people almost on a daily basis discussing an issue they’re having with a loved one, colleague or boss. Nearly every time, the issue comes down to not having an honest and frank conversation about what’s really going on, what needs aren’t being met and what vulnerabilities are present.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes those honest conversations end up in dealing with a very disgruntled other or down right abuse, but believe me, even when it does, there’s a deep sense of inner power that comes with speaking your mind.
Why are these conversations so difficult? It comes down to a few things.
- You have such respect for the other that you truly don’t want to hurt their feelings
- If you tell them how scared, worried or anxious you are over such a seemingly inconsequential situation, they may not like or respect you anymore
- Deep down you don’t feel worthy of that raise, love, item, need
- Getting that need met means that someone else has to lose out
- You struggle finding the right words
- You don’t have the confidence to speak up or suffer anxiety around speaking publicly or privately
Here’s something to consider. What’s the price you pay for not having that conversation?
- You feel sick inside
- Resentment builds
- Stress levels rise
- You become snappy at your partner, family, kids, friends
- You become that person forever complaining about this, that or the other thing
- And yes, you become bitter, unhappy and resentful of others, especially those who have the confidence to get their needs met
It’s not easy, especially if you’ve been that person always keeping the peace at the cost of your sanity. The first time I spoke up I was shot down. I had asked for a raise and they told me I wasn’t worth it. I handed in my notice and they begged me to come back, offering me more than I asked for. I still left.
Another time, after a lifetime of being the “I’m so sorry person”, I said no, that the behaviour was not acceptable, and boy did I get abused and have lost that friendship, possibly forever.
Aside from a small amount of incidences, speaking my truth is what has led me to personal and professions success. I’ve managed to navigate conflict (mostly) successfully in personal and business affairs, create harmony within my family (especially with a teenage boy – no small feat!), teach and coach hundreds of students, many stressing out and anxious, and I have never regretted being my honest self (oh except one more time but that’s for another blog).
So yes, there is a risk. But the rewards are 100 times more. I feel strong, capable and respect myself. I apologise when I really need to and I forgive myself and others for their mistakes. But I never say it’s OK when it’s not for me, regardless of what others think or believe.
Brave communication is a skill we can all learn.
Go well. Be brave.