Friday, January 23, 2009

Telling the Truth – A Tool for Communication or a Weapon for Control?

There is truth that feels good and truth that feels bad. Today we are going to focus on the “hard” truths, the ones that are difficult to give or receive.

We have all heard the sayings “The Truth Will Set You Free” and “Truth Hurts,” and depending on the delivery and the circumstances, both statements are indeed…true! Giving or receiving hard truth is both liberating and painful. When illusions are stripped, a void is left where a new foundation needs to be built, but at the same time there is more clarity to build the new foundation on.

Whether giving or receiving, the truth is a powerful tool that demands responsible use. The most responsible way to face truth is to ask yourself three things:

  1. What is the intention of the communication?
  2. What is the effectiveness of the method that conveys that intention?
  3. What is the expectation (desired results) of the communication?

Intention: Our intention for using the truth can range from attempting to build understanding to attempting to control behavior or circumstances. Unclear or hurtful intentions will dilute or negate any potential positive effect that is hoped for. If you know your intention when giving and receiving someone's truth, then you are more able to keep to your positive goals and purpose in the interaction.

Method: The truth is powerful, no denying it. How it is delivered as well as the state of mind of the participants make a huge difference on how it is received. Our relationship with ourselves at any given moment always impacts our relationship with others. Hard truth can be delivered with compassion, with force, with tentativeness, or indirectly, depending on the skill and emotions of the individual. It can be received with compassion, defensiveness, confusion, or denial. This does not make it any less or more true, but it does make it more or less heard and more or less acted on! Think about your triggers, what makes it harder and easier for you to give or receive difficult feedback.

Expectation: The expectation is the desired result of the communication. Is it gratitude, understanding, change, participation problem solving, or just seeking understanding? Watch yourself and your triggers if when giving or receiving truth you find yourself getting hooked into wanting someone to share the pain and suffering you are feeling. You will likely get what you want in this goal for the short term, but this tactic can destroy the potential for creating long term solutions that also may be a mutual goal. If you think more expansively when faced with your triggers, remember we are all trying to avoid pain and suffering and be happier (even if we choose dysfunctional ways to try to achieve it). What do you really want to achieve here? Keeping your bigger picture in mind helps keep the hard truth from being denied or becoming the only thing in your mind.

Remember, you are always more than your emotions, thoughts, and meanings you attach to them - you are also the energy which directs it all. You are both the observer and the observed. Aligning these aspects to work together for your growth and goals...that's a wonderful thing.

Warm Regards,


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