You’ve been there. Something needs to be said to someone.
Perhaps for a long time it’s needed to be said. But you are afraid of what might happen if you actually speak what’s on your mind.
Yes that conversation….the one that immediately popped into your head when you read that.
Maybe the topic is delicate and you are embarrassed to bring it up.
Or maybe you are worried that the person will be angry or hurt or misunderstand.
Or maybe you are afraid to make waves. Keeping the peace seems like a way better idea than lifting the lid on Pandora’s box.
So, you tip toe around the conversation that really needs to be had like you are walking on eggshells. You bite your tongue and swallow the truth because you are intimidated by the consequences of speaking what’s on your mind.
Hey we have all been there. I’d venture to say that everyone has at least one conversation that is waiting to be had.
And I also get why we put it off. But you know there are consequences of not speaking your mind.
Not speaking your mind
First, the situation doesn’t go away simply because you don’t talk about it. Most of the time, it actually gets worse. What might have started out as a little problem grows into a big one when it’s not resolved.
Then negative emotions like resentment or disappointment or hurt start to build up. That adds tension to your relationship.
There’s also a physical toll to continually biting your tongue. Stress hormones begin to accumulate in your body. All that negativity takes up residence in your stomach or your shoulders or your jaw, or whether you like to store pent up emotions.
Most importantly you lose integrity with yourself. When your authentic self doesn’t get to be heard, it’s diminished in some way. You are out of alignment with who you really are. Your heart does not have a voice.
That doesn’t mean that you should begin shouting all of your opinions from the rooftops. Quite the opposite. Speaking your truth is about acknowledging your feelings. It's not about being right. It's about being heard, not about being in control. Click To Tweet
So what does it take to begin speaking from your heart?
A deep breath and a little courage helps. Add to that a positive intention.
Perhaps what you need is a shift in perspective.
Try thinking of speaking your truth as a good thing. Instead of imagining all of the “what if” scenarios, imagine building trust and depth in your relationships.
Imagine what’s possible when you – the real you, gets to be heard.
Of course it requires some practice and tact, but you can’t make an omelet without cracking a few eggs.
When you are ready to stop walking on eggshells, it’s time to have a bold conversation.
Bold doesn’t necessarily mean earth shattering. For you bold might simply mean actually communicating your thoughts or feelings on something minor.
Bold is in the eye – or mouth – of the beholder.
It means taking the step you have been avoiding.
Here’s why it’s important:
The conversation is the relationship
The first time I heard the statement “The conversation is the relationship”, I thought it was brilliant. It comes from a great book called Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott. What I really love about this idea is that it places so much importance on the dialogue we have with others. Everything – work, family, community is about relationships. And of course. you are also in relationship with yourself.
How we talk to each other and what we talk about makes up our relationships.How we talk to each other and what we talk about makes up our relationships. Click To Tweet
When you think about it this way, then not avoiding the hard conversations takes on even more importance. Sure I know we are taught to play nice. That means we often sugar coat or avoid the truth. But unwillingness to have bold conversations actually kills relationships – one non-conversation at a time.
So what does a bold conversation look like?
It’s honest, direct and candid.
It’s also respectful.
Think about the conversation that you have been avoiding. Maybe it’s some little thing that has been irritating, scaring, frustrating or concerning you. Maybe it’s a little thing that has been ignored so long that it has grown into a big thing.
Perhaps now is the time to take a deep breath and give it a try.
Here are some tips for having a bold conversation:
Be willing to take a risk
You can’t control what the other person’s reaction will be, or what the outcome of the conversation will be. Sometimes we imagine the worst when actually the end result is positive. Not having the conversation doesn’t make the situation go away. It just postpones it.
Be responsible for initiating the conversation
You go first – no you go first. Somebody has to go first. Remember the other person is likely walking on eggshells too, so take the initiative and start the conversation.
Pick a time that makes sense – not one where the other person is already engaged in some activity or at the end of long day or when there is not sufficient time to chat.
Be graceful and compassionate
There are lots of different ways to express yourself. Be mindful of the other person’s feelings and choose your words carefully. Use I rather than you. No judgement, blame or finger pointing. Remember this conversation IS your relationship with the other person. Treat it with respect.
Be willing to hear the other person
Listening is not simply waiting for your turn to talk. At least 2% of what the other person is saying is true, and perhaps a lot more. Be open to their thoughts and feelings. No one needs to be wrong in a bold conversation.
Be proactive in finding resources or support
Some bold conversations have big implications. Do your homework and have your facts straight. If you need medical, financial or legal advice, go get it.
When you don’t have the conversation that is waiting to be had, you communicate it anyway through gestures, actions and body language. The problem is they may not be the best way to express what you want to say.
Start a dialogue.
That’s what relationship is all about.