Do you often find yourself unable to speak what you truly feel to another person? You might face this problem at home and at work, or with one person in your life.
There are many reasons why some conversations can seem daunting: the emotions involved, the personality of the other person, or a sensitive topic of conversation. Alternatively, we may sometimes barge into conversations in a rush, and find that emotions escalate and the outcomes are less than ideal.
Many clients have told me about situations in which they couldn’t speak openly and honestly with someone. One woman was afraid to talk to her aging parents about their inability to live alone capably and the need to explore alternative care options.
Another client was deeply in love with a friend, but unable to express his emotions for fear of rejection and losing the friendship. One was unable to discuss work issues with his boss, mainly because he did not want to be perceived as weak, or unable to pull his weight on the team.
However, learning to speak authentically with others is amazingly effective at helping us get what we want. In fact, speaking your truth is the only way to truly find the results you want – in any relationship.
It creates deeper, more meaningful connections with others, because we're interacting on the basis of authenticity, not dishonesty. It's also freeing emotionally, because when we can make our desires clear, we can release the tension of hiding our truth and any unconscious attempts to control the situation.
1. Start with the truth.
Make sure whatever words you are using are founded on honesty. If you can’t speak the truth, you cannot receive what you truly want.
2. Let your intention be to always speak from a place of positive intention.
Whether you're trying to talk to a good friend, your boss, or your ex-husband, direct your energy from a place of positive intention before speaking. Conversations started from anger and hostility generate angry, defensive responses. Open your heart to the conversation, and your true intentions will follow.
3. Own your role in creating the reason for the conversation.
Take full responsibility for your behaviors and actions leading up to this conversation. If you haven’t been honest with yourself, own it now. Do not blame the other person for creating the issue. We create our own reality.
4. When you talk, speak from a place of “I.”
You can only truly speak from your own perspective. Starting conversations with “you” statements invariably creates tension and signals blame. Speaking from a place of “I” also places the focus on the things that you control, and removes any sense of victimization.
5. Speak to facts and specific observations, as you perceive them.
Avoid interpretations of the facts. Observable behaviors, actions and timing can be factually described. Yesterday you didn’t meet me at the time we agreed upon. An interpretation of facts would sound like Last night you stood me up!
6. Follow with an appropriate expression of your emotions.
By demonstrating how you feel, you create the motivation in the other person to respond honestly. Keep the emotions simple, such as I feel afraid or I feel overwhelmed, and avoid interpretations such as I feel like you favor Anne over me.
7. Express what you want clearly.
Speak with certainty, for instance I want and I would like you to statements. Avoid neediness of indecisiveness such as I need and I think statements.
8. Finally, soften your tone from demanding into requesting.
When we make demands, we often get upset if they are refused. When we authentically request something, we do so without qualifications or apologies. Make your request, then energetically step back, and allow the other person to respond. When we request authentically, we can accept refusals without becoming angry.
When we start to make authentic requests, some of our desires can be fulfilled. Bring your awareness to how and what you are communicating to others. It often takes time and discomfort to change our ways of communicating. Learning to communicate authentically is the start of creating the relationships and results you desire.
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