I used to tell people that I always state the truth, and I am blunt. I stood by this character trait and would say that others just can’t handle my bluntness and that even if it came out harsh, it is the truth- that is me and accept it.
Not so much.
In my quest to change me, not change others, I discovered that this mentality has hindered many relationships. I now cringe at some of the memories of me being “blunt” and how my approach drove wedges and created toxicity. At the time, I saw myself as “empowered” and “using my voice”…but… because of my attitude the message was lost and I often felt misunderstood.
The method I now have been trying to take has me think before I speak, speak with kindness and understanding, and evaluate if it is even my place or the right time to say anything at all. Wait. I can’t just say what I want and when I want- what if it’s the truth? Consider this- what if it isn’t your truth to tell.
Here is an example. There are times in my marriage when I have felt “wronged” (real and perceived). I felt that I needed to declare this to my husband, and declare it right now, because that is communication. I would say, “I need to be open with you and tell you that you hurt my feelings. I don’t like how (blank) happened and I think you are being (blank).” This actually created more conflict. Oh well, because I was right! Right? Wrong.
Even being right- or thinking I am right- doesn’t mean I need to confront without understanding. This approach puts others on the defense. Also, there comes a point when being “blunt” and speaking our mind may even be like playing “God”. What if my approach gets in the way of the real issue? What if my approach isn’t offering the other person the opportunity to evaluate a situation and come to the same conclusion?
A few nights ago my husband and I were arguing. We both had valid points in the conflict. Instead of making it a priority to tell him all the ways he “hurt my feelings” I listened to him with kindness and understanding. Guess what I heard? I heard that he felt disrespected by something I did. I heard that he understood it wasn’t intentional but that he felt I didn’t value him. Woah. I don’t ever want to make anyone feel that way. My ability to listen was because instead of focusing on ME, I was focusing on “what is he trying to tell me- what is the need he is expressing?”. When I did this I didn’t feel so hurt anymore. I stopped the conversation and said, “I am so sorry. I hear you. You are saying that what I did made you feel disrespected. I am so sorry that you feel that way. I don’t ever want to do anything that makes you feel disrespected because I love you so much.” He replied with a sigh, “Thank you”. Then we hugged and smooched and felt even closer.
My bluntness serves a purpose. I am a strong woman who leads with integrity. However, I can still be blunt and speak the truth while being kind and understanding. I can use my “voice” by being empathetic and not emotionally escalating. Sometimes the loudest voice is no voice at all but creating a safe space for someone to be vulnerable.