The Top 20 Ways to Say What You Really Think
The false peace of not saying what you really think eventually sucks the life out of you.
Speak up because you’ll complain less if things don’t go your way.
20 ways to say what your really think:
- Determine what you want. You know what you DON’T want. What DO you want?
- Chill out. Breathe deep. Speak slowly. Sit down.
- Bring an open spirit. Be a learner, not a knower.
- “I could be wrong,” is better than, “You’re wrong.”
- Don’t follow, “I could be wrong,” with, “BUT.” Instead try, “I could be wrong. I WONDER about …?”
- Ask questions before making statements. You don’t know as much as you believe, and others aren’t as dumb as they seem … usually.
- Explore purpose. “What’s important to you about this?”
- Think like a leader.
- What’s the possible blowback?
- How will your ideas impact other people or teams? (That’s how leaders think.)
- Listen because it serves others, not because it’s fun.
- Learn from those who speak up and survive. What do they do?
- Don’t say, “You.” Focus on issues, not people. Make it safe for others to lower their barriers. Conversations get personal when you attack.
- Plan simple responses to possible objections. Spontaneity is a dangerous strategy when you’re under stress.
- Build relationships before you need them. A strong relationship includes the right to disagree.
- Strengthen relationships during disagreement.
- Show respect.
- Listen well.
- Repeat what you’re hearing.
- Say, “Thank you.”
- Decide if it matters or you’re responding to personal baggage. Sometimes the things that bother you are about you, not others.
- Care for people because it’s who you are, not because they deserve it.
- Celebrate success frequently. Disagree rarely. Be known for gratitude, not complaining.
- Speak up with kindness.
- Remember that complainers often want something for themselves.
- Speak from your heart.
Which of these ideas seems most useful?
What would you add to the above list?
A Manifesto for connection.
Thanks for the great list, Dan.
Comment: Willingness to engage in conflict that shows you truly care about more than yourself in a situation goes a long way toward building/strengthening trust.
Add: When I look in the mirror on this topic, am I trying to cause or relieve pain and where?
Thanks Frank. Love your suggestion that emotion is part of this. We would all do better if we thought about the emotions our actions call for from others.
Be a learner, not a knower resonates with me along with the importance of listening to serve others. Based on my own experiences I’d add say what you mean rather than dance around a topic. This can add to confusion even if your intention was to not hurt another’s feelings. In the long run the miscommunication is more likely to hurt another’s feelings.
Thanks Jan. It’s better to say what you mean. Everyone knows when we are dancing around a topic. They’re just waiting for us to pull the blinds back. Good call.
Care for others because its who you are, not because they deserve it. Getting into the concept of fair and deserving is a dangerous area. It masks the real meaning of why we are here.
Thanks Wayne. You made me remember that we might win the battle but lose the war. I might prove you wrong, but alienate you at the same time. Stick with the issue.
I’d say one of the the most important things is to first know your audience to the extent possible before opening you mouth. In particular know 1) what they WANT to hear, 2) what they are WILLING to hear, 3) what they will REFUSE to hear, and 4) what they will hear INSTEAD of what you actually said. When they ask questions are they seeking information or affirmation? Finally, silence can be like duct tape in your relationship toolbox. It’s not always the best option to fix what’s broken and it isn’t usually pretty. That said, in a pinch it can often hold things together until better options are available.
Thanks Ed. When things get hot, we are too eager to say what WE need to say and forget to say what OTHERS need to hear. It’s the difference between “me” focus and “you” or “us” focus. Thanks again for adding your insights.
This is probably the hardest to manage and perfect, “Chill out. Breathe deep. Speak slowly. Sit down.” But I have learned when I do so, I can control the direction of dialogue and challenge layout and solutions development. All because most everyone else just wants to hear themselves talk and they don’t know it. Sad to say its that way but it is.
Thanks Roger. I see that you went to the benefit of chilling out. There’s a quote about keeping your head while others are losing theirs. 🙂
Part of the dynamic these days is everyone wants “instant” gratification and/or results and they are impatient for “answers” or “solutions”. Society today drives those expectations so if you don’t comply with those expectations people get upset but you have to stand strong and patient as you note while others are losing their heads.
Love the list as it challenges me to be a better, more responsive leader to care for people and get things done. Thanks, Dan.
Thanks Steve. It seems that there is always room to grow. 🙂 Best for the journey.
Thanks for your post today. It was really timely for me. I’m struggling with a co-worker who I think could use my help in understanding the issues facing her department. I am going to use your list to help me communicate better. Maybe eventually I will be able to show her that I’m here to help.
I absolutely LOVE this post. It’s great advice, as usual. You’ve included may suggestions that are about serving others. We’re so much more effective at engaging others when our goal is to serve and this is especially true for leaders due to the impact from others watching us.
These are some great reminders that I plan to review regularly to keep myself in check.
Point 1 was my favorite! I just had a discussion with my boss and a manager in my department not too long ago, and I wish I read this beforehand. Initially, my boss felt that I was “blaming” her for a miscommunication, but that wasn’t it at all! I just couldn’t articulate exactly what I wanted in order to improve our working relationship going forward. We worked it out, but boy, this article would have been PERFECT for me two weeks ago! Haha thank you so much for sharing, Dan!
I can identify and relate to: “Care for people because it’s who you are, not because they deserve it.”
There will be times people have to become the “bigger person” and face the reality of a situation. This rings true in the workplace and remaining professional by displaying an executive presence. As we age, we mature and recognize that it is better to handle a situation by killing people with kindness.
Awesome and refreshing post! I agree entirely with saying what you feel. I learned very early on that a closed mouth does not get fed. No one knows what you think and should be expected to. That would be selfish and ignorant thinking in my opinion. As a leader, you have to be honest with your staff to get the expectations you genuinely desire. Saying what you feel does have some restrictions in the professional environment such as disrespectful, discriminative, bigoted, and/or spiteful remarks. If those ideas that are coming across your mind, then you might want to change your environment or consider some maturing.
I think the ideas that are most useful in leadership is thinking like a leader, listening, build relationships before you need them and asking questions rather than making. The only one I would consider is making sure you do your research before you speak or make a statement not only listen and keeping in mind of your tone to ensure there’s no notion of condescending or carelessness.
Loved this post!
Remember that you have relationships because you can’t know everything nor can you / should you do it all yourself.
I really needed to read this, because I have struggled for a while with saying what I really think. I never want to hurt anyone’s feelings or overstep a boundary by saying what is truly on my mind, so often times I just keep my true thoughts and comments to myself. On the couple of occasions where I did try to speak up and say what I really thought, it caused an issue with a coworker. I always try to stay humble, professional, and considerate when addressing issues at work, but this can be difficult sometimes, especially when true feelings have been bottled up for some time and the same issues stay present.
Asking questions before making statements is great advice. Sometimes what you think you know may not be the whole truth and asking questions can help you see a better, clearer picture and get a better overall understanding of a situation. Keeping the focus on issues and not people is also good advice. I believe I have done a pretty good job of doing this when bringing up issues at work; The issues I have experienced at work have not been personal, they have been focused on the job being done or not being done. Saying “thank you” is always a good way to show appreciation and strengthen a relationship, and I am proud to say that, majority of the time, my supervisor, team members, and I reciprocate that to each other.