Do you ever get the impression you’re not getting the full picture from someone?
Sometimes people don’t hold back, and you’re never in any doubt about how they think and feel. Other times, there’s an undertone, where you get a sense something isn’t ok but no one’s really saying anything.
Healthy communication is challenging in a digital, virtual world. Because so much of what we do and say relies on tone and body language, text messages and emails can leave important discussions wide open for misinterpretation.
When you live an authentic life, honesty and integrity matter; you speak your truth. You say it how it is, even when voice shakes. But how do we approach conversations that need to happen, when we need to dig a little deeper, especially when we worry that we are somehow not good enough to ask?
In her video, The Call to Courage (currently showing on Netflix), Brené Brown acknowledges how it’s painful to confront difficult situations, and as she explains “we end up talking about people rather than talking to them”. The key, she explains, is leaning into vulnerability and letting go of the need to get it perfect.
Here’s something you could try:
This week, set the intention to Excavate the Unsaid. Have a think about the last time you felt like someone wasn’t being transparent or open about what’s going on. How did you know? Did your spidey-senses tingle, or did you literally feel it in your body that something wasn’t right. (Mindfulness can help). Decide whether or not today is a good day to say something, by measuring your resilience.
If you’re feeling confident, you could start a conversation with the words “I’ve noticed…”, or I’m wondering….” eg “I’ve noticed that when I mention [x] you seem quiet. I’m wondering if you’re ok to talk about it”. If you get a sense it’s their self-esteem that’s holding them back, you could tell them how much you’d like their feedback or value their opinion (assuming you really do). As this article explains, you could also lead the way by saying how it is for you; people can feel empowered to speak when they see others doing it. It’s the same when we ask someone if they’re ok, and they simply reply “I’m fine”. It’s ok to ask twice and create safe spaces for people to talk. It won’t always be comfortable, but at least it will be authentic.
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Copyright Delphi Ellis 2020