Monday, May 19, 2014

Difficult Conversations: Let's Be Honest and Direct

Things are so much less complicated and simpler if you are honest in your relationships. Don't wimp out by avoiding difficult but potentially healing conversations. By going direct, you talk with the right person who can potentially do something different in response to your concern. By being indirect and talking with a third party, you triangulate and make any relationship problem more difficult to solve.

In my counseling practice, I often see relationships get damaged when people break trust by not being brave enough to be honest and direct. All grown ups need to develop their courage enough to have difficult conversations that need to happen. While going direct can seem intimidating or scary, it usually works out with a better ending. Being direct, honest, and transparent with those you love makes you respect yourself more, and ultimately shows more care for the other person. It gives them a chance to do things differently with you and perhaps open up with more of their true feelings.

The poet Mark Nepo writes that when we aren't honest it is as if we put on gloves that separate us from the people and events in our life. There is something unnatural coming between us.

When is honesty and directness needed?
  • When we are unhappy in a relationship, or feel our most important needs aren't being met.
  • When we are hurt by someone's behavior who matters to us.
  • When we feel we are being taken for granted.
  • When we need to set a limits.
  • When we need to do something different.
  • When we feel disrespected or misunderstood.
By being honest, we allow the other person to help in making things better, more fun or upgraded between us. It is a shared responsibility to make a relationship vital, engaging and supportive. While it might be scary to be honest, it gives the other person the respect they deserve, a chance to improve things rather than be blind-sided, or just notice that you fade away. Relationships are dynamic and always changing and without healing conversations, the relationship can't grow.

We need to encourage our children to be brave, direct, and honest as well. Whenever possible, help  empower your child to role-play with you, and handle situations directly at school, with family or with friends as it is age appropriate. If you do it for them, they don't get to build their confidence in relationships.

Having the courage to go direct to the person that you have a problem with makes you grow stronger and more confident. As psychologist and writer Barbara De Angelis wrote, "Living with integrity means: not settling for less than what you deserve in your relationships. Asking for what you want and need from others. Speaking your truth, even though it might create conflict or tension. Behaving in ways that are in harmony with your personal values."

In your relationships, whenever possible, go direct and lead with honesty and your true feelings. Being able to master the ability to have difficult conversations with your partner, your parent, your sibling, your close friend or your child is a key skill for building deep lasting relationships. Avoiding difficult conversations causes relationship atrophy and short circuits your emotional growth. Be brave.

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