How to Tell Difficult Truths So People Thank You
March 25, 2008
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There is probably something on your mind right now that you feel you need to share with someone important in your life. This truth, and whether or not you choose to share it, is actively playing a role in shaping your life.
This is why it is so important to learn to speak the truth. Yet, most people don’t want to do it in a way that hurts other people and stirs up trouble. This is not an easy task. As it says on my homepage, all truth goes through three stages:
1. First, it is ridiculed
2. Second, it is violently opposed
3. Finally, it is accepted as self-evident
But perhaps it IS possible to reach stage 3 without going through the first two.
The authors of the article linked below -- Kathlyn Hendricks, Ph.D., and Gay Hendricks, Ph.D. -- are both experts in body-mind therapies. I actually trained for a few weeks with them in California about 13 years ago and can personally testify to the usefulness of their approach, although it does require conscious commitment to apply it regularly. They have outlined a technique that will allow you to say a difficult truth in a way that will hopefully fill the receiver with gratitude.
The key to stating the truth in a way that other people will thank you for is to speak in unarguable terms -- because when you speak the unarguable, people don’t argue.
To do this, you need to reveal your inner experience and avoid placing blame. For example, saying “My stomach feels queasy” is an unarguable statement, but if you say “You make me sick to my stomach,” well that’s another story.
To reveal your “inner experience,” the Hendricks‘ say to “speak first from your three major feeling zones,” which are:
- Zone 1: Your neck, shoulders and mid-back, and feelings of tension and anger.
- Zone 2: Your throat and chest, and feeling sad and heavy.
Using the above “equation” to speak from your inner experience, here is how the authors suggest breaking up with your lover:
- Zone 3: Your stomach and beltline area, and feeling tense and scared.
“For a long time I’ve been feeling sad and disappointed. I can feel it right now in my chest, and I can hear it in my voice. I don’t think I’m getting what I want in our relationship. I feel angry a lot at you, and although I feel scared about being by myself, I think I’d rather face that fear than continue to feel what I’ve been experiencing the past year.”
This statement does not place blame, and it does not open up an argument -- it simply speaks the truth.
Try out this technique the next time you want to speak the truth, and if you feel you’re getting cold feet, remember that if the truth appears to be standing in your way, you’re probably not heading in the right direction.
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