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The Impossibility of Telling It Like It Is

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I don’t want to micro-manage anyone’s most intimate conversations: as unique individuals, we each have every right to choose our words and how we say them. But I want to encourage all women to realize the power our words and behavior have on others, which ultimately impacts us—sometimes in profound ways that we don’t consciously acknowledge.

Our freedom, our power, and our right to communicate our thoughts as authentic women holds an inherent responsibility, even at micro-levels. When we stop to think about our smallest and most seemingly inconsequential verbal or even nonverbal exchanges with other human beings, we can begin to see patterns that may not be acting in anyone’s best interest, including our own.

First, being authentic isn’t about telling it like it is, because there is no such thing. There is no ultimate truth, no objective right or wrong, no measure of good or bad, but only what we perceive as being so. We cross a line of propriety when we become blaming or judgmental, based on our limited concept of how it is.

When we’re speaking with someone, the only way we can keep our perception of reality within the bounds of fairness, it to address how something makes us feel—whether or not it’s based on that person’s words or actions. We always have a right to our feelings, but the rule of civility in any exchange is to keep the lines of communication open so that we can resolve any potential problem.

If something someone has said or done has hurt us, the best way to maintain open communication with that person is to state how we feel in a non-blaming way. But first it’s wise to ask ourself how important it is to let that person know about our bruised feelings. This depends on our real motivation. Are we really telling that individual about our feelings to improve the relationship or do we just want to get even by hurting the person in question with our objections? If we’re not trying to reach a mutual understanding, the hurtful actions are likely to continue, even escalate, until perhaps the relationship fails altogether.

On the other hand, if we’re honestly trying to reach a mutual agreement, solve a problem, and keep positive lines of communication open, yet still the other party continues with the wounding behavior, perhaps that relationship isn’t worth the time we invest, not to mention our resulting stress. It’s always your choice to maintain any connection or move on. If it’s an abusive relationship within your home, I suggest you seek professional help and if that doesn’t work, call a hotline to find out what to do with minimum threat to your safety.

Scolding, finger pointing, accusing, or blaming are generally ineffective ways to elicit positive change. And it’s often most damaging among family members. It’s better to set aside a time to discuss an issue calmly and without finding fault to resolve things in a way that allows mutual satisfaction. In other words, always think win-win!

Even in casual conversations with friends or acquaintances, it can be easy to get annoyed or offended by something another has said, even though that person may not have tried to hurt your feelings. Sometimes it really can be best to give the other party the benefit of the doubt, and assume their negative comment was inadvertent. If it happens repeatedly, it may be time to call it into question. Still, we lose control when we lose our temper, so it’s probably wise to give ourselves a cooling off period before we confront that person about the matter that’s bothering us.

The power of words is often much stronger than we acknowledge, and we share the same moral obligation as everyone else to avoid being insensitive with our use of language. I’ve heard some wise advice that before you decide to criticize anyone, ask yourself if it’s difficult to tell that person what he or she needs to hear, or whether it’s giving you some pleasure to put that individual in his or her place. If it’s the latter, it’s probably wise to refrain—you’re just going to make the world a little bit meaner.

When you apply kindness in overcoming your ego, you release its trap of attaching too much importance to your own thoughts and emotions, which separates you from others—and you allow love to triumph.

M.K Jones