November 15, 2018

Honest Communication Doesn't Hurt

You know the saying, “Truth Hurts”. After we look a little deeper into how honest communication affects us and others in our lives you may challenge the thought. 

Have you ever pitched a project to a client, received a “no thank you”, and wondered why? Wouldn’t it be great to know why you’ve failed? But why is it, when a friend points out that your presentation really was pretty terrible, or a colleague notices that your proposal pretty much killed any opportunity and tells you about it; we don’t want to hear it? 

Like most, we’re looking for encouragement and positive motivation. Of course, we all like a little coddling and cuddling. We enjoy when others give attention to our fantasized stories (You know, the I walked 10 miles uphill in a blizzard type work stories) and support our “I couldn’t be wrong” excuses and complaints. 

We’ve all done this time and again. We’ve done it in failed projects, goals and relationships. We’ve done the same to friends, family members, and coworkers. And, to be honest, we’ve probably done it sometime very recently. But, at what consequence?

Your Responsibility

I completely understand not wanting to come off as rude, inconsiderate and lacking empathy. Being blunt and disrespecting others or destroying relationships is the last thing we want to do. It IS important to use tact when communicating this way, however, it’s equally important not to enable bad behavior by a lack of feedback or “sugar-coating” your message. 

Are you truly helping yourself or others by being nice and withholding information? Stephen M.R. Covey once said, “When we talk straight, we tell the truth and leave the right impression.” Despite some initial pain and discomfort, honesty builds a bridge of trust between you and others. 

In the big picture, consistently telling the truth builds a bigger and stronger bridge between you and the other person. A well built bridge helps to grow relationships and can withstand time, great distances and the many other storms of miscommunication. 

Far too often a lie (including little white ones), despite our good intentions, is a lack of personal responsibility. We don’t want to deal with the consequences that come along with both telling the truth and accepting it from others. 

Being “brutally honest” is being responsible. And responsibility is a huge responsibility. Below I share 4 opportunities to improve honest communication in your daily interactions:

  1. Find Reality. Be in touch with what is and how things are not what you hope, think, or wish things to be. The only thing that is real and that will be consistent is what is. Once you find reality, it will be easier for you to confront brutal honesty and the facts that are real…such as your faults, weaknesses, failures, etc. Are you lying to protect yourself or others?
  2. Be Mindful. Evaluate the conversations you have with yourself, be consciously aware of the language you use when speaking with others and reflect and review old discussions to see if you were telling the truth. Are you leading conversations with honesty or by your fear and mistrust?
  3. Include Others. Tell your family, friends, colleagues and clients you are trying to improve your communication with them and others. Inform them you would like them to provide clear, honest feedback. Surround yourself with others who care about your growth and success, but watch out for those who lead you to believe in a false reality. Are you allowing others to enable unproductive thoughts, actions, and behaviors?
  4. Be Honest. Use tact in order, to tell the truth, so it cannot be misunderstood without disrespect or leaving false impressions. Don’t beat around the bush, use flattery or have hidden meanings when you talk to others. Represent the reality of the situation as best you can through good communication skills and even better judgment. Are you building trust by telling the truth?

Successful relationships, businesses, and dreams are built on communication, integrity, and trust. There is a thin line between honesty and being a little too blunt, but I’ve never known anyone to hate another for telling them the truth. 

Yet, for many, it’s easier to avoid the “hurt” of being brutally honest by enabling ineffective and unproductive thoughts, actions and habits. If you’re equally open to your reality and listening to the truth as you are for providing brutal honesty then you’ll never find yourself burdened by the weight of regret. 

Be a person known for honesty and you’ll find sturdy bridges of connection you when you need them most.

 “The consequences of deceit are usually greater than the ones of the truth.” -Dr. Henry Cloud 

Take a few moments after work or before you head to bed and write down a few examples to the above questions. Acknowledging these slip-ups will help to put you more in touch with your reality. 

Be Bold, 

Brandon Sobotka

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