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How honest are you?

How many times in a conversation at work or in your relationship have you reached the point where you wanted to tell it like it is but then stopped…?

Well, guess what, you’re not alone!

People shy away from telling their truth for a variety of reasons but basically I think it boils down to two things – fear and not knowing how to speak truthfully in a diplomatic way.

So, let’s cover fear off first. Fear can paralyse us in so many ways which makes it easier to play it safe. But the problem with giving into this fear is it creates only a short term resolution. The issues that lay behind those difficult conversations will only come back to haunt you time and time again. Telling your truth is liberating, by being honest you will take control of your decisions instead of fitting yourself around other people’s expectations. If someone gets upset by this it’s usually only because you’ve forced them to think differently by bringing a new idea to the table.

And now to diplomacy. As children we are taught to agree. Throughout school and at home we are encouraged to be complicit and find common ground. For most, this means that we bottle up speaking out until we can’t hold it in anymore and we explode with brutal honesty that can then offend or irritate.

If this is how you feel in these situations, here’s a few tips to help you manage things in a better way:

  1. Build on others’ comments. Acknowledge the comments of others in the discussion and add to them with your own thoughts. You will feel more collaborative and it will add to the reciprocity in the conversation, making everyone feel like they are working towards a common goal.
  2. Hold your ground. If your point has not been heard or understood come back to it until you feel it has. This may feel overbearing but it is amazing how many times people don’t actually listen to the other side of a conversation as they prepare their own next argument.
  3. Buy yourself some time. If you are feeling uncomfortable have a couple of standard phrases you can rely on to allow you the time to collect your thoughts before you share them. Whilst this may not work for everyone I used to have a boss who would constantly say “This might bite me on the arse, but…..” It certainly worked for him.
  4. Be assured. You might not feel confident but by speaking with conviction you will give your arguments more value than if you introduce them softly. This doesn’t mean you should be arrogant or aggressive but once you’ve made a strong, positive impression, people are usually more inclined to listen.

The good news is it gets better each time, better each time……you tell it like it is!