Young children usually have no problem in speaking their truth. Pointing to someone and telling a parent the equivalent of: "The emperor has no clothes on!" can be highly embarrassing, but often it is the truth—even if not politically correct.
Most very young children also don't hesitate in telling their family exactly what they want and what they don't like either. As parents, we correct our little ones, with words like: "Sweetheart, it's not; 'I want…' it's 'Please may I have…'" or if tetchy, your youngster might hear you mutter: "Want's don't get!" However, by the time a child goes to school, they have grasped the idea that it's not polite to ask for something saying: "I want…"
Although teaching young children to be polite and respectful is of course desirable, when they are older and they have a good grasp of vocabulary, conversational skills and the nuances of social etiquette, we rarely teach them to speak their truth in a gracefully assertive way without aggression. Many people when irritated, or feel under pressure or feel aggrieved in some way tend to react in one of four ways: they become passive aggressive; they try to ignore the situation in the hope it will resolve itself; they use sarcasm as a deflection; or they become defensive and/or aggressive. None of these methods is truly helpful, not for themselves nor the person they are trying to communicate with.
Over the years I have developed a technique called Truth Talking which allows you to speak in these situations, to speak your truth no matter how challenging you believe the conversation will be.
Truth talking Technique for difficult conversations
Truth Talking is based on a 3 statement formula. These are:
Genuinely acknowledge the person you are speaking to
Share your real emotion in response to their words or actions
Make a request or step into curiosity for a solution.
These statement all begin with "I" and they are spoken in a tone that is known as 'charge neutral' which means your voice has no emotional charge. When you construct these statements, you endeavour to not use "you" or if this is needed, then the word "you" appears only in the second half of the statement: never at the beginning.
This way of speaking is very different from most people's natural way, so I advise people to work it out, write it down and then practice it before trying it out for real. When my clients work with me, we usually role play this whereby I play the role of the person my client wishes to speak to. Role playing in the safe space of the life coaching environment allows my clients to practice their charge neutral tone, to find ways of not saying "you" (which tends to come across as judgemental or accusatory), especially the use of "Why don't you…" and I can play the role in both a positive or negative way so my clients get the opportunity to explore their own reactions to the potentially different outcomes.
Truth Talking talking is especially useful to speak to someone who has crossed your personal boundaries. And it can be used at the start of all conversations which you believe may be difficult in terms of what needs to be said. To read even more about Truth Talking, please see my TIPS blog: The Graceful Art of Saying "No".
What next ?
If you would like some help in speaking your truth, try out a coaching session! I offer a trial session for £35. This is available for anyone who would like to see what it is like to be coached by me. It is a real session: no selling because I will only work with you if you honestly choose to work with me. This is the only way it works.
To book a session, call me on 01869 821799 or email me