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!
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.