“Say what you mean, but don’t say it mean.” Anonymous
I’ve written a lot lately about speaking up. Next thing I know, I’m also speaking up on my vlog, but this time it’s about being quiet unless we frame what we say in a positive light, in a way that tells what we stand for instead of what we stand against.
I questioned if I’d contradicted myself even before a friend commented, so I’m clarifying just in case. Positivity is good, but sometimes we have to …
- Say the hard thing no one wants to hear.
- Say the true thing we’d rather ignore.
- State the reality we prefer to deny.
I also questioned if framing our messages positively and telling the truth, the kind people call “brutal honesty” because they don’t like it, are mutually exclusive. I must have thought so since most of my life I’ve told people what they’ve wanted to hear. I ended any message with a nervous little laugh to be sure no one took me seriously. I valued being positive (and liked) over being honest. No wonder family and friends interrupted my conversation, stopped me if they didn’t like what I had to say, and ignored my requests to not talk about topics like religion and politics. No wonder “no” didn’t mean no. No wonder I slammed doors instead of finishing a sentence. I had no voice.
Goodness, I’ve written about this until I’m sick of hearing myself talk about it, but I can’t stop until I get this out and until I get it straightened out. I don’t have a shot at doing what I’m telling y’all to do, #GettingYourOwnLife, until I get my own voice.
#WhileLovingthePeopleinIt isn’t happening either unless I’m willing to tell the truth. If I don’t love you enough to be honest, I don’t love you enough. Sometimes I can tell you what I need to say and frame it positively. I may figure out a way to keep it upbeat while keeping it real, or I may not. “You have a bad attitude” is hard to frame in a positive way.
I responded to my friend about my vlog when she commented something like, “There is a time to be positive, but there’s also a time to speak the truth.”
“You’re absolutely right,” I said. “I don’t want to be held to this video and expected to always be Polyanna.”
I’ve aspired for people to say, “I’ve never heard her say a negative word.” I don’t want to be her anymore. I want to speak up positively when I can. When I can’t, I’ll speak up kindly, but I’ll still speak up.
Here are ways I’m practicing:
- Say what I have to say and get out, especially if I’m confronting someone who explodes, defends, or acts senseless. I walk away so they have time to reflect and so I’ll stop talking. People typically argue not to deal with an issue, but to distract from it. I’m following Facebook’s meme with a fierce guy being chased by his opposition. It reads, “Give your opinion and run.”
- Rock the boat. I speak up about what’s bothering me even when we’re getting along, especially when we’re getting along, because it’s easier to talk then and because a single issue is easier to deal with than a long list of all that’s gone wrong this week, this year, this decade. If I wait until troubles build up, the culmination feels overwhelming to me, and it sounds crushing to whoever is hearing it. My son said, “It would be easier to hear this stuff in increments. You know, along and along.”
- Consider what’s important and helpful, and what’s not, when it comes to speaking up. Sometimes I fight just because I’m frustrated, maybe my husband’s finished with his paperwork while I’ve procrastinated over mine or he’s in bed early and I’m not. Other times I’m frustrated because I’m too afraid to speak up. That’s when I need to.
Here is what “speak the truth” is NOT:
- An offensive comment to control, to insult, or to make a point we know doesn’t need to be made. Usually the point we’re making is, “You’re wrong and I’m right.”
- Disrespect like talking about something we’ve been asked not to talk about and for good reason, but we say it anyway.
- A way of defying human courtesy instead of asking ourselves, “Is it kind? Is it true? Is it useful?” (By the way, these questions apply even when we’re talking about big personalities like Hollywood stars and political candidates. Their bigness doesn’t justify our belittlement.)
Does anyone else have anything to say about speaking up? I’d love to hear your take on it.
In This Together,
Thanks for the pix, Pixabay.com.