It takes courage to speak your truth and own your voice and have honest, courageous conversations. Maybe you’ve been afraid to talk about with someone? If so, here are some tools to help you be braver and reclaim your authentic voice in the world.
One of my favorite quotes is:
“A friend is someone who stabs you in the front!”
Some of my best friends and my current beau are what I call “front stabbers”— people who are “pathological truth tellers.” They tell it like it is – so I always feel safe that they are not hiding things or sugar coating something I’d be better off knowing the full truth about.
For this reason I adore “front stabbers.”
I know that they are loved ones who are truly, lovingly looking out for me.
If honesty really is the best policy for a happy and intimacy-filled life, then why “do you/me/so many people” often find ourselves avoiding telling the truth to someone?
Why don’t “you/me/so many people” speak up when someone is bugging us?
Or let someone know when they did something which hurts?
Or even share an intuition about a changing closeness?
These superficial relationships then wind up feeling uncomfortable, and unsafe – and thereby somewhat lonely.
With all this in mind, here are 8 tools to help encourage a “courageous conversation.”
(Note: Courageous Conversations are best done in person – not by email – because body language and nuances can be lost or misinterpreted.)
Begin with a compliment, sharing something you appreciate about the other person, so they believe in your good intentions.
Next, share your truth – in a warm way. (Tools below!)
Then at the close of your courageous dialogue, end with another compliment, so the other person leaves the talk feeling safely loved – instead of unsafely judged.
It is important to let the other person know your opinion is not necessarily the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Explain how you simply want to share your experience or perception, to bounce it around and hear his or her perspective.
Live up to this promise.
While sharing your truth, don’t focus on trying to win the other person over to agreeing with you.
Focus instead on trying to have a winning relationship—and truly stay open to other views.
Get ready to be open to thinking the following phrase: “Hmmm…maybe I’m wrong about my point of view after all.”
Try to use sentences that begin with “I” instead of “You” – so you stay focused on sharing how you feel – rather than insulting the other person.
Remember your point of view is just one point of view in a universe of many perspectives. If you find yourself trying to shove your “inflexible truth” forcefully down the other person’s throat, pause and reflect upon your intentions.
Are you honestly sharing your “truth” to help the other person – or are you simply trying to harm them because of deeper issues you have?
Make sure your goal for open communication is never to open wounds and pour in salt.
Make it your goal to always open your heart and pour in love and enlightenment – so you strengthen the relationship, not weaken it.
Because your goal is to truly speak from your heart, try to emphasize and explain how the other person’s misbehavior affects your feelings, values, dreams and/or goals—or those of others you’ve seen affected by this person’s misbehavior.
Basically, you want to awaken the other person to more compassionately understand the cause/effect of his/her misbehavior.
Your loving goal:
You want the other person to be more motivated to listen to what you’re saying and thereby change what might be unwittingly hurtful to others.
If the conversation escalates, know it’s because you’re not allowing the other person enough room to express views back – and share their truth too.
At this point, pause and allow that room—keeping in mind Stephen Covey’s helpful words: “Seek first to understand—then to be understood!”
If you are upset at this other person for something specific that he or she said/did, try not to generalize by saying, “You always do this” or “You always say that.”
Generalizations tend to escalate emotional states, because they’re more vague to discuss…and less believable.
Come on, be honest with yourself. A realistic “always” action is a very rare thing.
Sometime within the next 48 hours, follow up with this other person and make sure he or she is feeling loved—not judged—by all you shared.