The Effects of Speaking Truth

My son Sherman dislikes when I speak truth, in particular in public.  He is 11 years old and when I say anything in public that raises attention, he simply says: Mooooomm and starts pulling on my sleeve. I think he stretches the word to clearly express how embarrassed he is.

I admit that I am rather extrovert and have no problem saying what I think needs to be said.  If I am not happy with the service at a shop, I talk to the shop assistant and make my point heard.  When I feel ignored at a public place either by a waiter at a restaurant or at any other place that offers client service, I call for attention by addressing the person.  I am always polite and respectful and I don’t mean to hurt the other person’s feelings.  When I speak up about something, I do so with the purpose of clarifying the situation.  I share my point of view, understanding at the same time that I might not be right.  When I do this, I am offering communication and an exchange of different perspectives.

Speaking truth can open the gate for dialogue, assuming the other partner is capable of doing the same.  If that is not the case, the person speaking truth might appear hurtful or aggressive, and the other person might even get angry.  Speaking truth in a relationship can be even harder.  If your partner is not ready or capable of an honest exchange of viewpoints, speaking truth might have unpleasant results.  Would you consider this a valuable reason to keep on pretending and not being honest?  I don’t think so.  I am sure you all have little anecdotes that prove my point.

Quite often there is no absolute right or wrong, and therefore there is no judge needed.  There is simply an exchange of viewpoints, which gives everyone involved in the discussion the opportunity to express his or her view.

Bocca della Verità (Mouth of Truth) in Rome

Let me give you an example: I am upset because a good friend of mine always arrives late for our invitations.  I tell her that I feel a lack of respect by her behavior and that it upsets me.  My friend will not be happy to hear my complaint, but if she responds, we might be able to solve the problem.  Knowing that her behavior hurts my feelings might motivate her to change her behavior.  However, she might have a perfectly good reason for being late.  By speaking truth, I open the dialogue, and this helps both of us.

“Silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly.”
― Mahatma Gandhi


Speaking truth in a more serious context might also trigger vulnerability because others will see you for who you really are.  You will open your heart or talk about hurt feelings and disappointments.  Any façade that you have built will be demolished and you reveal your true self.  Although open and honest communication involves some risk, this is the only way to improve the way people interact.

It does not matter if it happens in your private life or in a business scenario, speaking up and being honest about your point of view is a strong skill as long as you are doing it in a “non-violent” way (read Marshall Rosenberg: Making Peace).  You have your perspective, while others might have a different view.  When all positions are put on the table in a civil manner with an open mind, they can be discussed and common ground can be found.  However, if you believe that there is only your truth, nothing will change or the situation might get worse.

If I tell my partner that I have recently felt neglected in our relationship and he gets upset without any further conversation, my truth will not lead to improving our relationship.  Instead, if I use “my truth” as an invitation to my partner to share his “truth,” which might entail a perfectly reasonable explanation, we can have a constructive dialogue that can resolve the problem.  All of this, of course, is purely hypothetical, or maybe not?  I will have to discuss this with my husband.

Why don’t you do the same and start speaking truth in your life.  I would love for you to share your anecdotes with us.  All women are hungry for truth as long as you don’t tell us we look fat in our new outfit!

Be a woman and act like one.  

I offer Business Coaching and Consulting services in Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura County.  I also work as a Personal Coach and Problem Solving Mentor providing Life Coaching services throughout SLO County.  Please contact me; the first consultation is free of charge.

About Hertha Wolff-Arend

I am a business coach and writer located in Paso Robles, California. I am the author of the book Be a woman and act like one. Succeeding in business and life’’ and I write a blog for women with the same title. I give motivational speeches and offer leadership and personality trainings to women. I also work with business owners and managers to support them in their leadership skills and personal development. As a strategic consultant, I also help companies with their communication and marketing strategy. Born and raised in Germany, I spent most of my adult life in Europe. I have a German university degree in languages and economics and I worked for many years in the advertising industry as one of the few female managing directors in Germany for major international advertising agencies such as Young&Rubicam, TBWA and Bates. My client list consisted of mainly blue chip clients, where I was responsible for their communications strategies and the development and execution of the advertising concepts. Just to name a few clients: Lufthansa, Danone, Kraft Foods, Bosch, Singapore Airlines, Ericsson, Campbells etc. In 2004 I relocated with my husband and son to California. I graduated from New Venture West in San Francisco as a Certified Integral Coach and started my own coaching practice in 2007. I am fluent in German and English and have conversational skills in Spanish. Aside from my dedication to work and family, I am a passionate dressage rider. I am devoted to supporting women in business, with a focus on women in the lower and middle management who are aiming at a career in the higher ranks or who want to develop their own business.
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2 Responses to The Effects of Speaking Truth

  1. Char Breeze says:

    OK, must tell you this is your most stellar effort. Simply amazing. Very interesting perspective.

  2. Hertha says:

    Thank you Char. I believe this topic speaks to most people and I also believe that by everyone speaking truth the world would be a better place.

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