We’ve all been there before.
- You see a friend with a split in their pants, a stain in an unfortunate location, their zipper down, or some kind of wardrobe malfunction…Do you tell them?
- A potential business associate keeps mispronouncing your name in meetings…Do you correct them?
- A fellow professional has misspellings on their website, social media posts, or blogs…Do you let them know?
- An acquaintance or even a stranger at a bar has something green in their teeth…Do you say something?
Especially at this time when being “politically correct,” more accepting, and less judgmental is being emphasized, you can’t help but getting caught up in the quandary of “Do I say something or just keep my mouth shut?”
Now before I go on, let me clarify two things.
First, I believe there is a distinction in terms of situations that are matters of opinion versus those like the ones mentioned above which are black and white or “facts.” This blog is about those hard truths, the times you know when that person gets home and finds their fly down or the lettuce wedged in their teeth, a wave of embarrassment will wash over them as they try to trace who might have noticed and how bad it was.
And second, this blog is not about the person who is being told about their mistake or faux pas since everyone reacts differently to honest feedback. And it is their insecurities, wounds, or shadows which will determine how they process, defend, reject, spin, use, or integrate the feedback.
This blog is for all of us who spend the five seconds, minutes, or hours belaboring the question “Do I tell them or not?”
Years ago, my friend and mentor Debbie Ford and I made a pact to always tell each other if the other “had green stuff in their teeth.” This pact was a metaphor for how we promised to respect and hold each other in every aspect of our lives – honestly and always supporting the other’s greatness as opposed to their fears, excuses, complacency, or even mediocrity.
Debbie was known for living her life along the line of impeccability and with her goals and vision in mind. She also fought like a bulldog to support others in living their best lives. Being around her, I quickly came to realize that when it comes to being “straight” or direct with people, the way you hold others is a reflection of the way you hold yourself.
As some of you may or may not know, The Ford Institute is regarded as a leader in training and certifying life coaches. Knowing that you can’t authentically lead people where you have yet to go, our coaches go through a profound and life-changing training process, which includes:
- Getting radically honest with themselves so they can support others in looking at their truths.
- Looking at their fears, shadows, insecurities, excuses, limiting thoughts, and negative patterns so they can encourage others to look at what is keeping them stuck, playing small, and feeling small.
- Acknowledging and celebrating themselves so they can invite others to fill themselves up with love, acceptance, and validation and stop looking outside themselves for acceptance.
- And most importantly, they commit to living in their potential and the magic of what’s possible in order to stand in 100% certainty as they presence the potential and possibilities for others.
Bottom line, they learn to hold themselves in their highest so they can do that for others
Although it would be nice to think that we all would automatically and naturally hold ourselves in our highest, we all know that is not the case. How often do we buy into our own excuses, choose short-term gratification over long-term fulfillment, or let our fears outweigh our desires?
To support you in holding yourself in your highest so you can be direct with others, here are two tips:
Tip #1: Do Shadow Work
Oddly enough, it is the many of the same things - our shadows, insecurities, fears, beliefs, projections, and wounds - that not only get in the way of us receiving honest feedback but also giving it. Many equate feedback to criticism.
- Not wanting to be seen as judgmental, cruel, or critical, we bite our tongue and swallow our truth.
- For those who felt hurt, judged, embarrassed, or shamed by feedback as a child, they probably decided long ago that they would never do to others what was done to them, and those wounds impact their ability to be direct.
- Others are afraid of giving feedback because they don’t want to open the door to getting any in return.
- And for all of the people pleasers, giving feedback is a real stretch. They are programmed to only do and say what they feel is nice, kind, and supportive since they fear that being honest might alienate the people they have worked so hard to please.
So, to break free of the shadows, fears, or negative beliefs that prevent you from being straight with others, first you must uncover what they are. Then you want to identify the events that gave birth to those beliefs. What did you see or experience when you were a child when it came to feedback, being direct with people, or criticism? Once you identify the meaning which got implanted in your operating system, you can find compassion for the little child who made giving feedback wrong and empower the adult who hesitates. You can also start creating new empowering beliefs about the benefits of being forthright with others and be free to be the person you want to be.
Tip #2: Ask Yourself “Who Do I Want To Be In This Moment?”
We have the choice to decide who we want to be in every moment. Do you want to be a person who speaks their truth? A person who shows up? A person who others can count on? A person who looks the other way? A person who chooses harmony over truth?
There is no “right” or “wrong” answer to this question since it is about what is right for you. However, consciously choosing who you want to be in each moment determines how you hold yourself and others.
We cannot control what others will do or how they will respond to us telling them that their fly is down or they added a list of numbers incorrectly. However, we can control who we want to be and what we want to stand for. Personally, I appreciate and am grateful for the people in my life who tell me when I have green stuff in my teeth or a misspelling in something I have written. It shows they love me enough to risk speaking the truth if it will support my magnificence. And as my friend Debbie Ford once said,
“Giving clear, honest, and direct feedback is one of the
greatest gifts you can give to another human being.”
Transformational Action Steps
- Start asking yourself on a consistent basis, “Who do I want to be in this moment?” Let that answer source your actions.
- Identify the fears, beliefs, shadows, and insecurities you have about being direct with people. Identify where they came from. To help shift those beliefs and bring faith to those fears, think about the benefits of giving and receiving honest feedback.
- If you have ever had the inkling to train to be a Life Coach, whether it is as a career move or a training you want to enhance your present career or your role as a parent, partner, or friend, then I encourage you to learn more by clicking here.