Speak Straight – Speak honestly in a way that helps to solve a problem, rather than simply making a point. Make clear and direct requests. Be willing to ask questions, share ideas, or raise issues that may cause conflict when it’s necessary for team success. Address issues directly with those who are involved or affected.
What is Speaking Straight?
Speaking Straight is being direct, clear, and honest in our communication. Good or bad, most individuals like hearing the straight truth. No beating around the bush or hidden agendas, please! Now, this is not to say that we should “dump our bucket” in the name of honesty. It means we communicate with sincerity, humility, and simplicity. It means we are free from communication styles that attempt to manipulate in various ways (withholding, controlling, avoiding, defending, forcing an outcome, convincing). Speaking Straight requires an extraordinary amount of thoughtfulness and a deep commitment to bettering yourself and those around you.
Why Should You Speak Straight?
Have you ever been referred to as “opinionated”? Or maybe you are told you never speak up or give an opinion? Perhaps you’re the explosive kind, the person who keeps quiet and eventually loses it altogether, then sinks back into the abyss of silence? If you’re any of these, its likely that you’re not speaking straight. Violence, silence, and toggling between the two are three unhealthy communication styles. There is every reason to speak straight and no good reason not to. Its unfair to you and the other person to allow a problem to go unaddressed. Since they don’t know its a problem, they have no opportunity to resolve it. Its definitely unfair (and extremely harmful for the relationship) to angrily criticize or loudly state your opinion every time you don’t like the way things are going. Speaking Straight is healthy communication. When we don’t speak straight we leave room for resentment and mistrust to flourish, while the opposite happens when we have the courage to speak with candor. People will respect you and trust you because they know they are getting the truth from you, which in turn gives you more confidence in yourself and strengthens your voice.
How Can You Speak Straight?
Now that we know what it means to Speak Straight, and why its a good idea, how do we begin? Start with these 3 simple steps:
- Say what you mean. Be direct in a way that enables the listener to truly “hear” what you are saying. The point of any conversation should be to forward the action toward team objectives. You can do this by helping the listener feel safe, by seeing them as a reasonable, rational, decent human being who simply has a different view than you do.
- Mean what you say. Don’t worry about the risk of speaking up; worry about the risk of not speaking up. Share your views with confidence, because your views matter.
- Don’t say it mean. Remember that you’re talking to another human being. If you say the truth, but you say it without love, its likely they will just resent you and avoid you after that conversation. So say what you have to say with the best interests of both parties at heart. Once you’ve shared your view, be sure to invite dialogue. Encourage the listener to disagree with you. If you’re open to hearing their point of view, they will be more likely to hear yours.
Honesty can be uncomfortable–to say it and to hear it. But when we practice Listening Generously along with Speaking Straight, we can learn to absorb this sting to our egos without much pain, if any. So say what you mean, mean what you say, and don’t say it mean!