You Gotta Be Clear with Others, Too

47651477_9be7e42a65_m.jpgClarity isn’t just about how you talk to yourself. It’s also about how you talk with other people. As a coaching client recently realized about communicating with her son: “I’ve got to be grounded, clear, and specific.”

Communicating our desires and boundaries can be difficult. How will the other person respond? Will I hurt the relationship? Truth is, if the relationship is authentic, it will accommodate the expression of your true self. Nevertheless, difficult conversations are, well, difficult.

Daisy Wademan Dowling writes an excellent blogpost on the subject: “7 Tips for Difficult Conversations.”

My favorite tip, one that was powerful for me when I first encountered it a number of years ago: “Adopt the ‘and’ stance.”

What does that mean? Very simple. Instead of using the word “but,” use the word “and.”

For example, instead of:
“I asked for the double chocolate cake, but you brought home sugar-free ice cream.”
Substitute:
“I asked for the double chocolate cake, and you brought home sugar-free ice cream.”

The effect is subtle–and significant. You firmly express your position and state the other’s position/action without setting up an opposition. You are literally placing the two of you on the same side. You frame the conversation as a project you’re working on together, thereby discouraging defensiveness.

Try it. Let me know how it works!

Photo by Procsilas.

0 Responses to You Gotta Be Clear with Others, Too

  1. Maren March 27, 2009 at 1:26 pm #

    Great! I picked this subtlety up via ‘osmosis’ from many of my teachers in massage school. i speak this way regularly now, and it feels good. definitely nicer to create cooperation than opposition. even if the other person doesn’t notice, using ‘and’ affects my tone when i speak.

  2. Ann Daly March 27, 2009 at 4:28 pm #

    That’s an excellent point about the change of tone, Maren. Maybe this helps to explain how darned soothing massage therapists sound!