Honestly! Step Up

Honestly!  Can YOU Handle the Truth?

When I work with a group training them on how to have important and difficult conversations with one another I always talk to them about being honest on communication. I ask, “what are the reasons we do not communicate Honestly” and I receive these reasons:

-I don’t want to hurt another persons feelings
-People will misinterpret what I am saying
-People will not be receptive
-It will put a friendship/relationship at risk
-I will be open to retaliation
-The conversation will escalate into a conflict
-Nothing will change

Then I go about picking these reasons apart with the help of the group because in every statement there a part of it that is A REASON to communicate honestly with the other person. I always give the group a disclaimer that all relationships are different and each person must determine for themselves when it is safe and not safe to tell the truth. There are times when it does not serve us to tell the truth and I respect that. I will give two examples: I recently had a friend talk with me about their in-laws and how if they spoke the truth to their in-laws it would cause conflict and end up hurting their partner, so they were making a conscious choice to not speak the truth. Second, in a workplace situation, sometimes because of co-worker or supervisors, it is not safe to talk honestly because you need the job to support your family.

Let’s talk for a minute about what we lose when we do not speak honestly in a relationship. I believe the number one thing we give up is the ability to have an intimate relationship with that person.

Who You Really Are
The first part of intimacy you give up when you are not able or willing to be honest in a relationship is the ability to be TRULY who you are with that person. When we are not able to be who we are within a relationship we are typically editing the things we share, protecting information and can never really relax and just let ourselves be in the moment of the relationship. I hope you all know what I am talking about here, there is a wall in the relationship that you put up, sometimes it is a small flimsy wall and sometimes it is a large cement wall. When I am around someone who I don’t feel I can be my full self with I feel a small degree of tension in my body versus the relaxed feel I have when I can fully be myself. The downside to this is that the other person never really gets to know who you are and you are never able to be fully appreciated by them. If there is a relationship you really care about, you need to find a way to be who you really are in that relationship and if we cannot do this, is the relationship really that important?

Who They Really Are
The loss of intimacy when you are not able to fully know the other person because of your unwillingness or ability to be honest with them is closely tied to the ability to be who you are in the relationship. It’s a bit like the “Chicken and the Egg” dilemma, which came first. When we are to able to share honestly, we are making assumptions about the other person and their ability to “handle” the information. Sometimes we are correct in this assumption and as we all know, sometimes Assuming makes us an Ass. When we feel this way about another we never give them a chance to “Step Up.” I learned this phrase from a friend and I think it is a perfect way to talk about this. When we are not communicating honestly with another and withhold information or circle around the truth we are in fact denying them the ability to show us who they really are, in essence, we don’t give them the chance to “Step Up” and show us they can deal with the information. When we don’t give them the chance to “step up” we are making our assumptions correct and basically judging the other as if they did not have the ability to “Step Up.” I am not saying that everyone has the ability to step up and we may be correct about our assumption, but there are those in our life who we protect and do not give them the opportunity to show us who they are…. Think about this next time you are with-holding information or dancing around the truth we someone you care about and consider giving them the chance to “Step Up.”

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