• Read Put down the mask and allow yourself to be seen.

    Authenticity

    Put down the mask and allow yourself to be seen.

    As we navigate life’s path, it’s interesting the things that will come up over and over again.  I’ve often mused that life will keep giving us the same lessons over and over again until we really learn them.  And really learning something is more than learning it on a theoretical level, or a “head” level as I tend to call it. Many of life’s lessons are what I call “heart” level lessons.  These are the ones that we must feel.  The ones that we need to feel to heal past experiences, so we can let more love into our life, and the shadow of the inner saboteur becomes fainter and fainter. We all wear a mask I had one of these experiences this past weekend.  I was on a girl’s trip to Rockport with some friends of mine.  The four of us met in a hiking meetup group during the pandemic and have been very close ever since. I hadn’t slept very well during the trip and the last morning I found myself in a very raw and emotional state.  The final morning, I started to cry, more like allowed myself to cry and feel some things I’d been shoving away for a while. And then I found myself worrying about things like: “What will they think of me?” “I’m ruining the trip.” “I look silly and I’m embarrassing myself and them.” I sat out on the dock in front of our lovely pastel colored condo and watched the sun come up.  The beautiful purples and pinks shimmering through the clouds, the seagulls diving into the water looking for a morning treat.  I cried, I was breathing deeply, I was letting out fear I’d been carrying for a while.  But I didn’t want to bother the group.  I separated myself on purpose so I wouldn’t be a burden to them.  The fear and embarrassment of showing strong emotion in front of my newish friends was just too overpowering. I was startled when I felt Carol’s hands on my shoulders.  She started to rub my back, and I let her.  The important point of this story is I let her.  It wasn’t easy I will say, even for me, a coach, someone who teaches communication skills and emotional intelligence.  It still wasn’t easy. So often in life, I think we learn that we must be strong.  And we take on a very limited view of what that means.  We put on a mask that hides our true nature from the rest of the world.  I think I’ve often prided myself on being that person in the group that has her proverbial “shit” together.  That knows what she is talking about.  That never loses her cool.  Because I somehow deduced that people won’t like me or want to be friends with me if I let them see who I really am.  That it’s not acceptable to ever be “out of control” or need a moment to cry. Which frame do you choose? […]

    August 23, 2022

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    4.5 min read

  • Read Straight Talk: Speak the Truth with Love

    Authenticity, Difficult conversations

    Straight Talk: Speak the Truth with Love

    This week I’ve been teaching a course on straight talk.  I often refer to this skill as “Speaking the Truth with Love.”  The crux of getting this right depends on three important aspects. There are three elements to straight talk: Caring personally (compassion) – Caring personally about the individual who is on the receiving end of this conversation and demonstrating this care with your words in the conversation. Sharing your perspective and/or challenging directly – Or in other words, being clear about the issue that needs to be communicated and not beating around the proverbial bush. Inviting others to do the same – Creating the space to have a two-way conversation rather than merely talk at someone. Any straight talk conversation is a great opportunity for two-way dialogue and not merely a “dump and run.” Don’t Bury the Lead You’d be surprised how often we do the opposite.  When it comes to challenging directly, I notice one thing in particular.  I often sit in practice runs where participants are role playing a difficult conversation they need to have.  I’ve seen people do a million times something I call “burying the lead.”  At the end of the conversation, I ask the initiator what the issue was they wanted to communicate.  The person on the receiving end of the conversation often had a totally different impression of what the conversation was about.  The gravity of the issue had not been conveyed clearly or accurately.  This happens all the time, and people walk away with completely different perceptions of a conversation or an issue.  No wonder there’s so much conflict in our personal and professional lives! Remember that honesty without compassion is brutality But the caring personally aspect is just as important as challenging directly. It’s crucial to remember that honesty without compassion can be brutality. E.g. “I think your idea is stupid.” I’m reminded of an old friend and colleague that I used to spend a lot of time with.  She prided herself on her ability to give straight talk.  She had mastered the art of being direct.  On that front there was no one better I will admit.  The problem is her words were often not couched in compassion.  Over time it took a toll on my ability to relate to her, and eventually after I’d been stung enough times, I abandoned the relationship.  It just wasn’t worth it. So why don’t we engage in straight talk?  Or why don’t we do it well when we try? Mindset is Everything Mindset plays a huge role when it comes to this skill.  Do any of these sound familiar? It means being unkind. I must act professionally regardless of the cost. I can’t upset people. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. I must tell the truth at all costs. Silence is golden. I can’t challenge someone senior to me. Which of these beliefs are true for you?  And how are they getting in the way of […]

    July 13, 2022

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    3.1 min read