Let’s face it: most of us dislike conflict. We’d rather be uncomfortable than risk making someone else uncomfortable. Often, we even choose to remain silent when we’re faced with minor irritants and there’s really no threat of serious conflict. As I wrote last week, this fear often leads people to make nice with people who aren’t “making nice” with others. In the end, though, our desire to avoid conflict can lead us to deny our own needs.
Unmasking your communication: Are you using your truest voice?
Obviously, remaining respectful to the people around us is important in maintaining healthy relationships. But when we deny ourselves while trying to honour others’ needs, we aren’t doing ourselves any favours, and we can actually harm our relationships. Being honest about our needs is part of respecting ourselves, and it’s also key to respecting others—it grows a relationship.
Can you be honest while still being respectful? Absolutely. Avoiding the trap of self-denial involves removing the masks we wear and allowing our genuine self to shine through.
Mask On Mask Off
|“Nothing happened really. I am fine.”
|“I’m feeling put off by your last comments. Let’s set up a time to talk about this further. How about tomorrow at 11 am?”
|“Coffee? I would love to see you too. Let’s make a plan to meet.”
|“Great idea, but right now I need to take time for myself.”
|“I don’t dislike this workplace.”
|“There are aspects of this workplace that aren’t healthy for me. I’d like to see a few improvements.”
How you can claim your truest voice?
I don’t believe in quick fixes and don’t recommend them. I do believe in first steps. They usually lead to bigger steps and a willingness to a take chances. Here are three first steps to claim your truest voice:
- Connect with your self before connecting with others: What am I really feeling? What do I really need?
- Accept the truth of your experience. Once you are solidly anchored in your truth, you can choose what to do or say next, and do so with integrity.
- Make sure you match from head to foot. Why smile when nothing in the situation makes you happy? It’s important that your thoughts, words, and body language match.
A friendly warning: In discovering or expanding our truest voice, we come to know ourselves more deeply. But once you know, you can’t ‘un-know’. You can’t ‘un-know’ that you can’t stand your work environment, that you really don’t want to see your in-laws this weekend, that you’re feeling down and could really use some help. Knowing what you now know, the next step is to choose what you do next.