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.




5 thoughts on “Where Did Your Voice Go? And How to Get it Back!”

  1. I love the phrase “You can’t un-know”. C’est vrai que la découverte vient avec des responsabilités…
    Bonne journée Dominique.

  2. DragonflyTraveller

    Excellent timing. I am becoming more clear to myself about what I need and what I need to do to succeed personally and as the leader of a team. As a result, I am communicating this better at the management table, but at risk of being seen as “pushing back”–the kiss of death. Trying to pair being true while being seen as building opportunist is a difficult balance. And, today, I had another one of those situations where the other person was being rude and aggressive and I had to push myself not to clam up.

    Thank you, Dominique, for continuing to share these pointers.

    1. Dominique Dennery

      Fiona, I salute your wonderful example of courage and compassion. Thank you for sharing your story. I work with many leaders facing similar dilemmas and my hope is that one day, this ethical push back will be seen as normal and valued by the powers that be. So glad you didn’t clam up. At first, people around us wonder what caused the change in attitude, but with time, they come to see us as someone to respect. Over time, you attract others with similar values and behaviours and life gets easier! You are encouraging me to continue to write. Thank you for this gift.

  3. Jagoda CAPKUN BACIC

    I read this post and comments as part of Dominique’s June 13, 2017 post “Fighting for Harmony” https://dominiquedennery.com/coaching/fighting-for-harmony/ and as I read Fiona’s & Dominique’s comment/response I’m not sure what happened in the new Century? I started working in 1979 and have worked at different levels of management including executive levels. Pushing back was viewed as positive behaviour, as a challenge, as critical thinking, being smart and strong, etc. Maybe this was in in the technology realm where I was (and still am), but since 2000 all has changed! It is all viewed as described above. Something happened to our psyche. Is it a result of 911, market crash, who knows, but I don’t think it’s just a nostalgia for a good old time. E.g., women are having tougher time in technology field today then I did 30 years ago, because of things like “brogramers” mentality (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brogrammer).

    1. Dominique Dennery

      Thank you for weighing in Jagoda! Your insights are so useful. It has become more important than ever to speak up and use our genuine conversation muscles.
      Dare I say that there is a backlash against women and the progress we have been making in the world of work. The 21st century workplace is not for the faint of heart. It’s changing quickly, workers are being displaced and looking for scapegoats, the pressure to deliver on time and within smaller and smaller budgets is stronger than it has ever been, civility seems to be a luxury commodity and mental health issues are on the rise. I could go on and so could you, but for now, I am making a plea to coaches and professionals who have some measure of independence to support and equip others to speak up and protect their integrity in the workplace.
      Let’s keep this conversation going!

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