Everyday, we engage into countless of correspondence with the people around us. The primary intention is to get our message across and be understood. As we continue to do this, we develop relationship with others and strengthening that relationship by repeating the process. However, as we seek to be understood we sometimes forget to first understand.
While it takes two people to build a relationship, it only requires one to change it – and maybe forever. How often do you get into trouble just by not saying what you really feel? Who really is to be blamed when you were misunderstood when you can just plainly open up and be honest? Quite sadly, because we fear to tarnish our existing relationship with others we sacrifice our ability to create a safer environment to air our feelings. Care enough to communicate how you feel.
When we don’t care enough how we feel we cut the authenticity of the communication process by not allowing our listener to participate in a healthy exchange process with greater awareness of the truth, understanding of what really took place and safety to tackle an issue. Hence, we fail to foster a chance for others to change their undesired behavior and explain their perspective. Remember, letting others know how we feel helps others how to carefully react with us.
The straight talk process always starts with you. You have to understand your truth and understand why you feel that way. Internal clarification happens when we know how to communicate these feelings positively by transferring that same clarity to our listener. When you feel a colleague unfairly criticizes your work that has offended you; care enough to tell him that his comment did not particularly help you professionally. In that way he will have a chance to avoid repeating it or apologize. Rather than slur the person, focus on the issue and work together to resolve it.
Put it simply, you get hurt sometimes because you did not tell others what you want and what you don’t like.
A caring straight talk is different from being frank or blunt. Working on resolving issues on “frankness” plain is selfish. What it seeks is to do is to solely air your feelings without considering that of others. It rampages the other end participant’s right towards a healthy communication process.
Eric Allenbaugh, Ph.D., in his book “Wake up Calls” suggests a 3-step strategy to get this:
1. This is what I experienced.
2. This is what I feel.
3. This is what I want.
Using the example about a colleague saying unkind words about your work and employing the strategy above, this is the appropriate way how to give feedback through a caring straight talk.
“When you criticized my work in front of my peers yesterday, I felt embarrassed. I want the value of your feedback, and I have learned much from your advice. I want you to continue giving me feedback, but I prefer that critical feedback be given to me privately. That works much better for me while making it easy for you.”