Authenticity, power and just saying it how it is
Do you say it how it is or find yourself shape-shifting and giving your power away by playing nice or avoiding the really tough conversations?
It's not until my forties that I've fully appreciated the value of straight talking with heart.
The best developmental feedback I was given was after I'd done an exercise in a leadership development programme. The programme co-leader (who I really admired) told me that I had an apologetic energy about me. As she said it I felt a mixture of emotions flood over me. A part of me was furious (I mean me, apologetic!) Yet another part of me felt challenged in a way that made me sit upright. I hated the idea that I might be perceived as apologetic and I also knew that what she was saying was true. I could see how I could be perceived in that way.
I loved her for that feedback and the fact that she ran a hugely successful international coaching organisation gave me an insight as to how she had built her business by being true to herself. It was one of those moments that made me look at myself and accept the conditioning that had me think it was better to play nice or hold back for fear of reprisal.
That leadership programme changed my life because it changed me. It showed me how I was choosing to be passive and superficial at times when I should trust my intuition and name what I see. You see up until then, I would be in situations where I'd think that someone couldn't handle my truth and instead of sharing it, I held it back. It cost me dearly because I always ended up feeling frustrated (particularly at work).
Recently I was facilitating a senior team and a couple of people in the team described being in it as "weird". As we rolled up our sleeves and started to get really curious about what "weird" really meant in this context, they started to share the impact they had on each other. They spoke their truths about their reality at work and something quite special happened. Instead of blame and defensiveness, understanding, acceptance and connection happened. Assumptions got explored and they could see how it was the holding back and blame that was making it feel weird. They'd been pretending and acting as if it was fine when really it wasn't.
Whether it's at work, at home or with friends, the ability to share your truth with an open and loving heart is incredibly important. It's what keeps us in our power instead of falling into defensive ways of being. And there are some things that I've found really help with this.
1. Stay out of judgment. When we're in judgment about someone or something, it's not a resourceful place to speak from.
2. Be really curious with yourself and others about what's going on. It will keep the connection light and flexible.
3. Own your experience. Don't flower it or dress it up.
4. Keep your heart open.
5. Be clear on your intention, make sure it's coming from a good place and keep coming back to it.