Use Your Words

One of the most challenging aspects of being a truth teller is that it can feel like you're on an island. Friends, family, and coworkers look to you to be the person to say the thing that isn't easy to say, that might be triggering to the person receiving the message. For years, I assumed the role of the-person-who-always-tells-it-like-it-is and allowed that responsibility to be placed on my shoulders. To me, the alternative was worse - it wasn't okay to go on pretending that said issue wasn't an issue. If that meant I had to be the messenger so be it. But I've learned a lot as the messenger, and one thing, in particular, stands out:

If I let others make me the truth teller, I allow them to abdicate responsibility.

To stay disempowered and safe behind the invisible wall of silence that means the boat won't be rocked and the peace will be kept.

We live in a society that has programmed us to believe that likeability trumps the truth. It's more important to be "nice" and pleasing to others, even if it means we suffer because words that need an outlet stay inside of us. Conflict is to be avoided at all costs, and the unfortunate unsaid conclusion is that speaking up creates conflict. Speaking up may cause another to be triggered, but triggers are your friend.

If you can learn to look inward and examine why you've been triggered rather than becoming defensive and lashing out, you can see more clearly the elements of your own beliefs about yourself that may need to be addressed and improved. When you are willing to be kind rather than nice and be truthful, compassionate, and honest in your communication, you give others the opportunity to respond.

 
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Let me say that again: Speak up and give others the opportunity to respond.

Silence is the status quo's best friend. Don't like something but won't speak up? I guess you're doomed to more of the same. How can anything change if you won't vocalize how you feel or what you need? Far too many hope that others will meet unspoken expectations. Hope is not a strategy.

Avoidance isn't a strategy either.

Are you avoiding giving someone a response because you don't want to hurt their feelings? How is not responding at all a better option? Is lack of courtesy somehow better than honestly responding with "I'm sorry, I don't believe this is a fit for me at this time" or "You are on my mind and I will respond shortly" because you are genuinely busy at the moment?  Maybe you're not responding because you know the conversation that must be had will be a tough one.

So what? When you do the hard things, you grow. Your relationships improve, You become a better version of yourself.

Telling the truth isn't easy. No matter how gently and diplomatically you phrase it, if the person on the receiving end doesn't want to hear it, they will be defensive. You can't control the other person's reaction. That doesn't mean it's better to hold your peace. Give them a chance, they may surprise you. If they don't, you may need to evaluate whether continuing to be in a relationship or association in which honesty has no place is right for you going forward.

Truth can either improve your connections or break them. Either way, it sets you free.