It’s hard, speaking up for what you believe. It’s hard to stand firm in your knowing, find the right words, and present them to others who desperately (might) need to hear the truth.
Trouble is, the truth so often hurts.
I’m still learning discretion and discernment, in part because my son and husband have recently gotten a little defensive with me when I’ve offered (in hindsight) totally unsolicited advice. I’m guilty of unwanted “momming”.
My own mom still does this, by the way. I’m almost 47 years old and she’s still momming me.
So how do we navigate the complexities of conversation?
Recently I’ve started by observing myself. I observe whether or not I’m truly listening to others. So many times when we’re in a conversation, especially a heated conversation or discussing any controversial topics, we’re so busy forming our own thoughts, opinions, and reactions that we’re preparing responses before we’ve actually even heard what the other person is saying. In the past (you know, last month) if someone came to me with an issue, I needed to fix it. My bad! I’ve come to realize that most people truly just need to be heard. We just want someone to listen, to understand, to sympathize, to acknowledge. We don’t want to be fixed, geez. I’m fine, just hear me out! I digress…
I also observe body language – is it open? Nervous? Etc. Now I ask before I speak, “how can I help?” Or, “do you want help finding a solution, or do you just need a sounding board?” If you use these few, simple tools, you will likely be very surprised at the results!
Need more tools? Don’t we all. I find that it’s more empowering to let them find their own answers, so I ask them questions. No, not like “how did it make you feel when your mother wouldn’t let you go to the park alone”, I dive a little deeper!
For example, a dear coworker of mine, “Khalisi”, recently met a man who, on paper, is “everything she’s ever wanted.” She’s been ruthless with this man – testing him, accusing him, questioning him, basically trying to sabotage the best thing that’s come her way her whole life (she’s 30, so there’s that). So we talked about it; why does she believe she’s not worthy? When you want to fix your outcome, you have to look at the past. What in your childhood led you to believe that you don’t deserve XYZ. She revealed that her dad was abusive, so the dots were immediately connected. Her relationship with her father will dictate all future relationships with men unless she heals her past and leaves it there – in the past.
Not all digging is so easy, this conversation was basically served on a silver platter and very little work went into the how and why, but the more questions we ask, the more we find our voice. Our truth. Even when it hurts.