A lot of my work has to do with helping people clarify what is most important to them. Their purpose, their values, the kind of culture they wan to build in their business and their life. At some point they have to take this out to the real world. And sometimes that means they have to have what often feels like “hard” conversations. Whenever they are having a hard time figuring out what to say in these conversations, I always ask them this question: What’s the truth?
I’ve learned that this works so much better than saying: What do you want to say to them?
Why? Because they rarely tell me what they want to say to the other person. They tell me what they *think* they should say to the other person. They get really careful about their words. They try to anticipate what the other person will say and try to cover all of those bases in what they say.
And when you start by thinking about how the other person might respond, you loose the truth. Heck, you don’t even uncover the truth for yourself, much less convey it to the person you want to talk to. And that leads to shitty conversations.
So, I suggest a dry run with the truth. Write it out. Say it out loud to yourself in your car. Try it out on a trusted friend. Talk to yourself in the mirror…it’s hard to lie to yourself when you are looking into your own eyes!
Get the truth out first. Look at it a bit and then figure out how to say THAT in a way that is productive and see where the conversation goes from there.
Let me give you an example.
I worked with someone recently who had chosen to leave their job and start their own business in the same field. When I asked them to take a stab at saying what he needed to me as if I was their boss, it was a wordy, wandering, indirect statement about their history together, his own performance issues and how different he’s going to do things and why that won’t work with his boss. It took a couple of minutes for him to get it out.
When I asked him what the truth was he was able to very clearly say that he didn’t feel like his values aligned with his boss’s values anymore. He wanted to go about building the business a different way and wanted to try out building a business of his own.
That’s it. Pretty simple. You tack on a “thank you for all you’ve taught me” and you pretty much have what he finally went with.
Once you get the truth out, you shut up and see what happens next. They might not have as many questions or objections as you think they might because you started with the truth.
All of this brings to mind a quote from Rayya Elias:
The truth has legs; it always stands. When everything else in the room has blown up or dissolved away, the only thing left standing will always be the truth. Since that’s where you’re gonna end up anyway, you might as well just start there.
With this in mind, what truths do you need to speak today?