The theme of communication seems to be recurring a lot lately. As a therapist, I see that the root of many people’s pain is ineffective communication skills. Developing stronger communication skills, at any age, improves quality of life overall, as you are better able to handle work, home, and social situations.

Over the past month or so, we’ve delved into how to have a difficult conversation and how to express yourself using your words as opposed to acting out your feelings.

Today, I want to explore another barrier to effective communication—speaking your truth or, simply, talking straight.

The difference here is that you are not acting out—you are actually speaking—but you are not saying what you mean. You speak in code, meta messages, and skirt around what you actually want and then become frustrated because you are not getting what you desire.

I want you to take an honest look at your language. Do you say: “I’m really upset about something, and I’d like to talk about it,” or do you walk around acting angry. Do you express your desires by saying, “I have a simple request” or ”I need more help with ______________.” or do you expect the other person to just know? When you are angry with your partner, do you say so, or do you pick a fight about something else (again, not saying what is true but still releasing the pressure valve on your anger)?

These are all common examples of dysfunctional communication. And these behaviors sabotage any real problem solving effort since no one, including you, actually knows what is really causing the upset.

This week, I want to challenge you to talk straight.

Gaining clarity about how you feel, what you want, and what you need is the beginning of knowing how to talk straight. The next step is expressing your truth, with no need to justify, defend, or convince. You have to start every interaction with the hope that your needs will be met and a willingness to compromise. A healthy sense of self is directly connected to your ability to communicate what is true and real for you. This sense of self is not dependent on how the other person responds. The most important piece of this behavioral puzzle is you having the courage to honor you. There will always be instances where we do not get our needs met or where we do not fulfill another person’s wants from us, so learning how to gracefully say and receive “no” is also a component of straight talking.

I learned this lesson when I was about to finish graduate school at NYU to become a therapist. My father was retired and living in Florida and disliked being in New York City. I wanted him to attend my graduation ceremony but told my therapist there was no point to inviting him because he would say no. I was intimidated by my father and had a hard time communicating with him.

The therapist helped me understand that my healing would come from having the courage to honor my truth, not from whether he agreed to attend the ceremony or not. I went to visit him, and although I was shaking in my flip flops, I invited him. He said, “Oh Ter, I can’t deal with New York.” and I said, “Ok.” and then he said, “Here comes the guilt,” which shocked me and opened the door for me to talk straight for the first time with him.

I responded, “Dad, no guilt. Mom will be there, and Kath [my sister] will be there with a one-week-old baby, but neither of them are you. You are my only father. No one can ever take your place. But honestly, I understand, and I’m not mad.” That interaction liberated me and profoundly changed our relationship.

He died suddenly less than a year later, and I remain incredibly grateful I spoke straight from my heart while I had the chance.

I hope my story inspires you to take the challenge. Your happiness and the quality of your relationships to others and yourself deserve the truth.

I hope you have an amazing week and, as always, take care of you.

 

Love Love Love

Terri

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  1. Thank you for this great post, Terri. Just another awesome tip and reminder to learn effective communication. And a timely one too. I am working through effective communication with myself and others and learning to really connect to my feelings and being clear to myself and others about them. Knocking out of my DNA the unclear, passive aggressive, and blaming conditioning I grew up with. Thank you!

  2. Terri
    I love what you said,
    I can’t believe the amount of people,
    I ran into everyday that can not speak truth,
    I can ask a simple yes or no question,
    and I get this big old story that leads to the situation and I still do not get a yes or a No.
    all I get is a bunch of excuses,
    thank you again Terri I must share this video 🙂

  3. I completely agree with you, but I was conditioned to beat around the bush when you wanted something. When I do speak my truth I noticed I’m not so graceful about it, and my question is; how can I be more diplomatic when I speak my truth?

    1. Great questions, Dania. Start small. With simple requests. Also, you can practice what you want to say. The more you do it, the better you’ll get. Remember too that your intention speaks louder than your words. Go with an open heart and mind, be authentic, and be willing to compromise. xo.

  4. It took me forever to finally tell my mom the pain/scar I got as a child from her period with depression.
    As a 5 year old sitting outside her bedroom door, sliding notes under the door asking her to please open it and getting no response left me feeling unwanted & unloved by the one that i loved.
    Its always been hard for me to open up with ones that I love and care about. Fear of being shut out again by loved ones kept me quiet for many years. Only when I stated the fact with my mom last year did I realize the scar I had and the reasoning for my “need” to always try and make things better.
    I love my mom and always have, no fault on her part. We enjoy a more open loving relationship now.
    Thank you for this blog!

  5. Well spoken indeed !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You have spoken significantly into the high cost of failing to talk straight. Thanks for your gift to us.

    Paul

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