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Brutally honest: how about we try being sincere with compassion?

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Professional and personal communication is one of my biggest challenges. As an INTJ, I can be brutally honest, speaking my mind without sensing the effect my words and tone have on others.  I just blurt out what I want to communicate without considering whether it’s the right time or place to do so.

I’ve found I have better skills when I write it all out in an email or written correspondence. But this misses many nuances and can be misunderstood.

At the other end of the spectrum, I clam up when the emotional environment hits like a battering ram.

The challenge I face is paying attention to the human element of interaction, rather than giving greater value to facts, figures and problem-solving. People are not just another problem to be solved.

the unpleasant truth, brutal honesty, frankness, clear, accurate, unpleasant
Brutally honest: if someone expresses something unpleasant with brutal honesty or frankness, they express it clearly and accurately without disguising its unpleasantness.

I appreciate someone how openly speaks their mind. But saying things “as they are” – with little regard for people’s feelings – is a sure way to alienate others. Worse yet, being brutally honest is used as an excuse to be blunt, rude, cruel and callous.  Of course, on the other side of this pendulum is silence and withholding all opinions.

Brutally honest: I don’t need your validation

One of my strengths – and inevitably, it shows up as a weakness – is that I’m perfectly content living life by my own rules. Many INTJs feel that they don’t require validation from others. As a young adult, I really didn’t care what others thought of me. I questioned traditions and norms, without taking into account who might have invested in those procedures or rules.

Unfortunately, I  also ignored the rules of social interaction. I alienated others because I didn’t care what they thought of me. I was happy to be independent, taking care of myself.

Until I discovered letting my heart lead, I swung between “I need no one” and being an absolute people-pleaser, wanting to be accepted!

Being polite: acceptable hypocrisy

As a result of my preference for speaking what’s on my mind, I struggle in social settings with the acceptable hypocrisy of politeness. It is, without a doubt, the worst definition of “being nice”.

Jenny O'Connell, brutally honest, people-pleasing, authenticity, authentic self, living authentically
Hiding how you feel and trying to make everyone happy doesn’t make you nice; it just makes you a liar.

I can’t stand social pleasantries, small talk, especially beating around the bush and sugar-coating something important.

I can see the elephant in the room and I’d like to talk about how we could remove it.

Problem-solving is easy. Listening to someone else’s feelings and story, on the other hand, can be exhausting. Just give me the facts. Ask me for advice and an honest and objective opinion. I promise I won’t mince words.

The challenge is that feelings, pride, and self-worth often conflict with the facts and figures, and expediency says “just ignore people’s feelings”. Except I can’t.

Brutal honesty: sometimes it’s just brutal and not entirely honest

I can recognise the times professionally that I wanted to prove “I am right and that’s why I’m the star”. Those were moments where I held no regard or respect for the person that I was speaking to. I wantonly humiliated and hurt others, only to regret it later.

Richard J. Needham, alignment, anger, be authentic, being nice, bitterness, brutal honesty, brutally honest, choices, compassion, connection, courage, cryptic, emotions, expectations, fear, feelings, frustration, gut, head, heart, humility, insincerity, kindness, know thyself, know your purpose, loving kindness, passive-aggressive, personal boundaries, power of authenticity, practice awareness, practice loving-kindness, read the room, resentment, self-worth, silence is violence, sincere with compassion, strong, values, vulnerable, wisdom
Brutally honest people get more satisfaction out of the brutality than out of the honesty.

There is a place, in speaking honestly, for asking yourself:

  • Am I mean-spirited?
  • Do I feel better than others by speaking and acting this way?
  • Am I enjoying lording over others?
  • Does this make me feel powerful or full of pride and arrogance?

People use “the truth” to hurt and damage another. To knock them down. We use “the truth” to manipulate, to get the desired outcome by using the facts to our advantage. And of course, as I mentioned, you show the world “I’m right, I’m better”.

William Blake, telling the truth, authenticity, intentions, relationships, criticism
A truth that’s told with bad intent beats all the lies you can invent.

You don’t have to be cruel to be kind.

Honesty does not require that you be harsh, rude or shocking.

It’s not always necessary to shake them or leave them shell-shocked so that they listen to you.

While the upside to being hurtful, harsh and cruel is that you made a point:
was that really the point you wanted to make?

Arthur Dobrin, alignment, anger, be authentic, being nice, bitterness, brutal honesty, brutally honest, choices, compassion, connection, courage, cryptic, emotions, expectations, fear, feelings, frustration, gut, head, heart, humility, insincerity, kindness, know thyself, know your purpose, loving kindness, passive-aggressive, personal boundaries, power of authenticity, practice awareness, practice loving-kindness, read the room, resentment, self-worth, silence is violence, sincere with compassion, strong, values, vulnerable, wisdom
There is always a way to be honest without being brutal.

Change: I can be sincere rather than brutally honest

Facts, figures and knowledge are important, but so are relationships. The honesty that I so highly value can show up as sincerity with compassion.

Authenticity: Being true to yourself is more than just facts, figures and the need to be right. It requires more effort than rattling off what I know!

#1 – Know thyself

It doesn’t matter whether you read “Crucial Conversations“, “Non-Violent Communication“, or even Stephen Covey’s “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People“. Every conversation and interaction with others begins within.
We interact with others through our perceptions.
The more awareness we bring to where we are at, the better we communicate with others.
Notice how resentment, bitterness, anger and frustration build up within when you fail to speak up for yourself. Even if you are trying to be “nice” and “not rock the boat”. Don’t swallow the feelings.
Take note of the times you have been cruel, brutal, or callous to make your point, to feel better about yourself, or to “be right”.
Before you speak:
  • What is driving and motivating you at this moment?
  • What are your intentions and their underlying emotions?
  • Are there past resentments in this relationship that taint the meaning you are giving to this interaction?
  • Consider even your sense of safety and security: do you feel threatened in any way?
James E. Faust, brutally honest, living honestly, authenticity, living authentically, truth telling, honesty, truth speaking, truth living, truth loving
Honesty is more than not lying. It is truth-telling, truth speaking, truth living and truth-loving.

#2 – Know your purpose

Wielding honesty as a weapon can break relationships and make you “the bad guy”, especially if you use honesty to put others down.

Before you speak, clarify for yourself:

  • What is the actual issue to be addressed? I would suggest looking at three potentials to consider:
    • Project/Situation – is this something specific that is a problem?
    • People – is the real issue relating to relationships and interactions?
    • Patterns – is there a pattern of behaviour that needs to be addressed?
  • Do I need my personal/professional boundaries to be acknowledged?  If you are being hurt (emotionally, mentally, or even in a situation professionally that could adversely affect you in the short or long term), perhaps the purpose of the conversation is to establish a boundary.
  • Am I just looking for the ego trip of making a point and showing how much I know? So, you’re brilliant. If you feel that this is not being acknowledged – is this the right way to showcase yourself? What might be a more intelligent way of doing this?

#3 – Read the Room

There is a right time and place for difficult conversations. Sometimes, there are even the right people to have a conversation with. Before you dive in, consider whether you are in the right room:

  • Is this the right person to speak to?
  • When is the best time for this conversation?
  • Where is the most appropriate place to speak about this matter?

We’ve all had moments when we have said the right thing to the wrong person, or to the right person at the wrong time!

When something is weighing on your mind, it’s easy to want to offload it. But the purpose and mission are not to offload it as quickly as possible!

If you want to be effective in change, make sure you are speaking to the right person, and as much as possible, pick the right time and place to have this conversation.

#4 – Practice loving-kindness

I don’t “play nice”. But I do believe in being kind. It’s not a game. And I strive to balance loving-kindness for myself with being kind to others.

I see compassion and loving-kindness like the breath I take. To exhale compassion for others, first, you have to inhale for yourself! Healthy boundaries and respect lead to healthy relationships. And the hardest conversations, at times, are about those boundaries and personal respect. Without this, there is resentment, anger and frustration. And that can show up later in passive-aggressive behaviour.

When you speak up with kindness, you address the issue. You don’t attack the person.

Most importantly, with kindness, you have difficult conversations that you might otherwise wish to avoid.

Susan Scott, brutally honest, alignment, anger, be authentic, being nice, bitterness, brutal honesty, brutally honest, choices, compassion, connection, courage, cryptic, emotions, expectations, fear, feelings, frustration, gut, head, heart, humility, insincerity, kindness, know thyself, know your purpose, loving kindness, passive-aggressive, personal boundaries, power of authenticity, practice awareness, practice loving-kindness, read the room, resentment, self-worth, silence is violence, sincere with compassion, strong, values, vulnerable, wisdom
Never be afraid of the conversations you’re having. Be afraid of the conversations you’re not having.

#5 – Be authentic because insincerity shows through

Have you ever had a conversation with someone where you think they are lying to you, but it turns out that what they were telling you was actually the truth?
You read body language (micro-messaging) all the time. And even if the words spoken are true, if the person speaking is being insincere (in any way), your body and subconscious pick up on this. It affects the message and how it is received.
One hundred per cent of the time, irrespective of who is talking, we are reading all the signals. Do their words match their body language?
I failed a lie detector test
Way back when, everyone in the company I worked at had to do a lie detector test.
I failed on one critical question: “are you doing drugs?”
I wasn’t, and I answered honestly.
But the machine said, “lie detected”.
Why? Because my conscience was bothering.
After finishing up University, I had tried smoking weed with friends and lied to my parents about it! My conscience hit me up on a lie detector test years later about that lie!
Thankfully, the head of security running the test knew me well enough to know I didn’t do drugs, took me outside, asked me to explain the situation, and then redid the test. After I admitted to the lie I’d told my parents – and we both got a good laugh – I went back in and redid the test and passed without any problems.
Are you aligned with what you are saying?

#6 – Silence is also violence; if you’re not honest

Silence can be toxic when you’re trying to “be nice” and keep the peace. Unfortunately, keeping silent withholds information. It might be withholding vulnerability about your feelings because you no longer feel safe. Or it might be that you don’t care anymore, and so stop participating in the conversation.

This silence can be part of the very problem:

  • cryptic conversation – you know there’s a problem, but they haven’t told you what the problem is, so you jump to conclusions;
  • passive-aggressive behaviour and interactions;
  • ghosting, rather than speaking up and working on the relationship.

While it’s okay to restrict your vulnerability to a small group of people where it is safe to open up, if safety is regularly an issue, it might be time to rethink your inner circle. Clarify the difference for yourself between friends and acquaintances, and don’t be afraid to differentiate that for yourself.  Just because someone else has you as their confidant doesn’t mean that you have to reciprocate.

Consider the impact of your silence and how sincerity with compassion might make a difference. How could you speak up?

#7 – Humility in the face of speaking from anger and pain

We all screw up.

We’ve said things when responding in anger or pain that we later regret. There are triggers and blind spots that we failed to catch in time. Perhaps you were holding off on a conversation until the right place and time and got triggered and spoke out of turn.

Acknowledge it, first to yourself. Then to others, when appropriate.

While you think it might make you look bad or weak to acknowledge you spoke out of place, it takes great strength and courage to admit when you were brutally honest rather than sincere.

Brutally honest conclusions

I still value honesty and want people around me that are not afraid to speak their minds or call me out. But now, I value those who can do so with kindness and compassion.

I want to have difficult conversations: because that’s where the transformation and change happens. It is where the opportunity lies.

In my life, I want people who sincerely, with compassion, can point out my flaws and give me the opportunity for change. 

introductory call, Beth Gray, coach, coaching packages, phone call, Zoom, Skype, online, purpose, expectations, value, fit

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How to make better decisions: are you aligned with your values?

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The more I delve into great decision-making, the more I realise the importance of alignment and self-awareness. If you want to make better decisions: know thyself!

It’s easy to think that a great decision is a choice of the best option available to us: “what do I think this might be?” But great choices take into account so much more than just good ideas.

In the corporate setting: they don’t just get the best immediate result for the bottom line or take into account your financial interests or marketing plan.

To make better decisions, find your compass.

There are many challenges to making great decisions, but some of them can be avoided with the right tools.  Most of the tools I mention are ones you already know. Hopefully, you’ve already done this work. Better yet, you update and view this regularly.  These tools to knowing yourself are values, passions & vision.

Continue reading How to make better decisions: are you aligned with your values?

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Authenticity: what is truly important to you?

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One of the reasons that we find ourselves unhappy is our lack of authenticity. This sadness usually happens because we are unaware of being out of alignment.

For example, one of our values might be family and relationships. Nonetheless, our definition of success might be solely focused on our career and professional development. To be successful, we sacrifice our family and relationships, living up to our goals and dreams. Nonetheless, we feel that we are living a meaningless life.

Of course, this only happens because we are unaware of the disconnect between our values and our goals or purpose. To live a truly authentic life means to have certainty that our plans and goals align with what we want and need, truly aligning with our values and priorities.

#1 – Authenticity: What are your values?

At the start of this year, I redid the exercise of examining my values. What is essential to demonstrate in my way of being this year? I wrote about this is “Secrets of the heart: revealing my values”.  In “Values & Priorities: why identify them?” I have a quick look at how to identify your values.

Continue reading Authenticity: what is truly important to you?

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Finding your voice: loving your authentic life

finding your voice, loving your authentic life, the power of authenticity

For me, the year 2018 was all about finding my voice and becoming me authentically. I discovered areas I focused on people-pleasing. I was busy living up to expectations, rather than speaking my truth.

It came on the heels of burnout. I recognised that recovery required a new set of standards and values by which to lead my life!

Have you stopped loving your life?

Maybe some of the following words or phrases resonate with you:

  • Disengaged
  • Unfulfilled
  • Unhappy
  • Stuck
  • Inauthentic
  • Going through the motions
  • Living up to old dreams
  • Yesteryear
  • Living up to other people’s expectations
  • I forgot what the question was while pursuing the answer
  • Life just got in the way and took over

And then, one day, you wake up, finding you lost all respect for yourself and others and you ceased loving.

FYODOR DOSTOYEVSKY
“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him or around him, and so loses respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”

The Power of Authenticity

There is an extraordinary power that is held in YOU being You. When I suggest you need help finding your voice, I am not referring to a writer or a speaker. Instead, I want you to find the power of the small, still voice – somewhere deep inside – that dares to stand up for you.

It’s finding that voice that dares to think your thoughts.
That dares to speak your mind.
That dares to make decisions for that are right for you – because they are right for you.
The voice that truly represents who you are – or perhaps, at this moment in time, who you wish to be.

I invite you to search for the best, authentic, true version of you.

  • The you that keeps your word – especially to yourself – that wakes up when the alarm goes off the first time. When you know the value of starting the day early, you keep the smallest promises to yourself. “I will get up at this time.” When you finally recognise that if you lied to yourself about something this insignificant, you couldn’t trust yourself for the more essential things in life.
  • I want you to find YOU – the you that keeps your word about how much exercise you want to do and how you want to feel in your body – because you care about you.
  • You keep your word about what you will do and get finished today because what you say to yourself matters.

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Because how you do anything is how you do everything.

Finding your voice is discovering the You that has investigated, for yourself:

  • What you really think
  • What you truly desire
  • And who you most deeply are: the deep inner you.

You are, in your own, unique way, really creative, truly compassionate and fiercely courageous.

They say that we come into this world as living souls of infinite potentiality to be discovered and released – when we dare to live life from the inside out.

A story is told of a man who sits brooding at his desk in the evening.
Earlier that day, he received his dismissal notice from a company that he had served for more than 20 years.
He’s busy despairing on the difficulty of getting a new job – at his age – the impossibilities of living on his income – the shock of finding himself dispensable in the world!
Useless.
Washed up.
A little spider was walking across his desk at that moment, and he unconsciously brushed it off.
Immediately he found himself watching, in awe, as this tiny creature took this disaster – of being swept into the air and off its path, and spun a tiny strand to bear its weight and gracefully swung down to the floor.

If that spider – a tiny creature – can get into the flow of using all its talents and natural resources and deal so creatively and gracefully with a crisis – why can we not do the same?

Your innate power lies within:

Could you invest a little of your time discovering your inherent ability?  This power comes from knowing who you are and what your strengths are and the resources that you have at your disposal.

The power of a person that owns what they say – that can compassionately, and yet clearly, say what they mean. Can you permit yourself to be you – warts & all?

– Jay Acunzo
“If you just stopped trying to be a better version of everyone else, you might find way more success using your creativity to be the only one who does what you do.”

Finding your inner voice: WHO AM I?

When you are alone, taking off the labels of relationships, religion, profession, nationality, and all the rest of the tags that society or even you have placed on yourself – WHO are you?

-Lao Tzu, Chinese Taoist Philosopher.
“Mastering others is strength; Mastering yourself is true power.”

Know Thyself.”

Know thyself now. It does you little good to know the person you were ten years ago. Even the person you were last year is not going to help you out today. Who are you now?

Are you in touch with your feelings and needs?

We are human beings: who are you now? And I would even go further. We are human becomings: who are you becoming?

Most importantly, who do you want to become?  Understand “this is me here and now” even as I grow and change.

‘A caterpillar who seeks to know himself would never become a butterfly.’

I started off asking if you were stuck, unhappy, disengaged. One of the issues with forgetting who you are – really, truly, deeply – is that you can’t express who you are because you don’t know any more. You’ve become trapped in the definition of self that you made up some time ago.  Or worse yet, you failed to define “who am I?” and so someone else told you!

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Finding your voice and identity: 

As you get to know yourself, you find happiness: I like this, but I don’t like that. Then you can say I want to do this and I don’t want to do that.

When you know yourself – you feel less conflicted.  Your actions will align with your inner feelings & values.

When you know the answer to “who am I?”, it’s easier to make better choices for yourself.

  • Do I like this sweater?
  • What would I like to eat?
  • What do I want to invest the rest of my life building?

Knowing who you are, and finding your inner voice, allows you to slow down. Do you feel that you are busy living your life with other peoples’ choices?  Or, are you choosing what you would like to eat? Do you love your body? How does this influence your wardrobe? Who decided your lifestyle?

Know Thyself

What are your limits & boundaries?

Here are some great questions to ask yourself:

  • How good am I at X?
  • How well do I do what I do?
  • What are my strengths & weaknesses? What are the limits of my strengths? Strengths might be your abilities, skills & talents – but don’t forget your character strengths –
      • Loyalty
      • Respect for others
      • Love learning
      • Emotional intelligence
      • Empathy
      • Encouraging others or a great listener

Do you know your “superpowers”- because knowing these strengths also gives you self-confidence!

Knowing and acknowledging your weaknesses allows you to hold back from accepting responsibilities or roles that you are not cut out for.

And one of the best things about knowing yourself, of really understanding your likes and dislikes – is having the power to say “no” when you mean “no”.  How many times do you say yes – to social obligations, to invitations, to responsibilities & commitments, when you wanted to say “no” because you weren’t standing in your power?

Do you need guidance in finding your voice?

 

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How to separate decision-making from problem-solving

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Recently, I was putting off some crucial decisions about how I wanted to move forward in my life. And it’s not that I haven’t been looking at the issues and contemplating what I wanted. But I felt stuck.  Then, I came across a question in Wendy Craig-Purcell’s book “Ask Yourself This“, and realised my dilemma. I was mixing up problem-solving with decision-making.  

The question she asked as “If I could solve the “how”, what would I do?” Continue reading How to separate decision-making from problem-solving