Say What You Will: Dummy’s Guide to Conversation #10
How to Not Feel Bad About Voicing Your Opinion
I’m working on it. (so back off.) (darnit.)
But I’m learning lately that every voice really does matter—no matter what condescending tone your client or boss or the VP takes in today’s conversation. Even when she sighs and says “We’ve been over this,” know that if it bugs you, you need to bring it up. And the know-it-all in Purchasing doesn’t really know it all—he just sounds that way. So raise your point. If what you hear doesn’t sit well, say so and tell why. Reject verbal manipulation and say what you will. Be civil. But say it.
That inveterate letter-writer said to speak truth in love, and he was right (again). Each of us hears only what we want to hear most of the time. And it only gets worse over the years as our blinders sit more firmly over our eyes and ears. We don’t see or hear what we don’t know. We’re not even looking for it. But we need to hear it, and sometimes we desperately need to hear the big obvious thing everyone is trying hard to not say. Our words are most effective when they carry with them true care for another person. “True care” as opposed to the catty smites that characterize so many of our public forums.
Say it because your conversation partner will get over it. Or not. It is true that sometimes our words can end friendships—but that is less likely when our words also communicate care.
And beyond our need to hear from outside ourselves, a lot of critical human work gets done within the moving parts of a conversation: affirmation, understanding, self-understanding, mutual-understanding, reframing a situation, brand new ways of looking at things. That list is long.
But none of that happens if we don’t say what we are thinking. So stop worrying about disrupting the day of the self-important windbag. Much bigger things are at stake.