The best way you can respect another human being is to communicate honestly with them. In professional and personal relationships, communicating messages quickly and directly is a solid way to demonstrate respect for another’s time. More importantly, both you and the receiving party will be better off.
As a player, I clamored for honesty from my coaches. It did me little good for them to soften their approach with me. I could sense fear in them as they delivered cryptic messages about what they needed from me. In turn, I respected them less.
The same is true in my current broadcasting work. For that matter, it applies to all my relationships. Optimizing to not hurt feelings is both ineffective and inefficient. Think about how you feel when you have information that must be delivered to another. If the information is critical of another’s work or habits, it weighs you down, silently eating away at your precious energy. Now envision yourself having communicated a truth. The discussion itself may be uncomfortable, but the weight is lifted. We can take deeper breaths and have a calmer mind. We may even end up healthier. From becomingminimalist.com:
Honesty has been linked to less colds, less fatigue, less depression, and less anxiety.
It makes sense that our interactions can impact our health. The act of freeing oneself from a burden is relevant not only in life’s most important moments, but in the day to day grind as well. It’s a habitual practice.
A few months back, my relationship with my accountant was suffering. He and I had been working together for years, but now I was considering making a change. He’s a great guy, but that wasn’t at the heart of the matter. He wasn’t communicating to my satisfaction. Because I was thinking about it frequently, it was eating away at my intellectual bandwidth.
He issues end of month reports with his clients, and that is ample for many of them. It doesn’t work for me. I like to know when the tide changes in any direction before months end. I desire more information and a more frequent stream of it. I’m detail oriented.
“Steve,” I said. “This isn’t working for me. When a check comes in, I want to know about it. If there is a payment due, send me a note, please, rather than waiting until month’s end. If something needs attention, let’s work on it immediately. This stuff is non-negotiable.”
Having gotten it out, I felt relieved. Steve deserved to be privy to my thoughts so that he had a chance to make an adjustment. My communication positively impacted my health, and it was, quite simply, fair to him.
He has since stepped up in big way. If he didn’t, a swift change would be in order so as to not drag out the inevitable. By speaking directly with him, I made sure he wouldn’t be blindsided. He is able to provide me with better service because I spoke up about my needs.
This method may be even more important in personal relationships. Putting off difficult but unavoidable interactions doesn’t benefit anyone. My ex-wife, Lisa, and I used to discuss “silent expectations.” These never get met, because none of us are mind-readers, no matter how intuitive we are.
When the answer is yes, say “yes.” When the answer is no, say “no.” Be dependable. Follow through on your commitments. And don’t commit to anything that you don’t intend to complete.
Ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away. Resentment sets in, and ill will festers over time. When dealing with loved ones, if something should be different, make it known, clearly and quickly.
Now, the method of delivery is important. Honesty doesn’t require being harsh or cold. Even when there is discipline involved, when it comes to personal relationships, leading with love works best.
Like all parents, there are times I need to practice this with my sons. If one of my boys isn’t cleaning up after himself, he needs to be reminded to take care of his business. I first ask myself, “How can I deliver this message strongly and lovingly?”. Then, when I have the answer, I approach.
“Deuce, I believe in your ability to make sure your dishes get in the dishwasher. We are all teammates and are accountable to each other. If your dishes are out and I have to take care of them, it takes me away from making your lunch and our mornings don’t flow well. I need you to handle your responsibility.”
My tone is warm but matter of fact. It conveys, “I care for you, AND I expect more from you.” It is precisely what I’d want if someone needed a higher level of performance from me.
The beautiful thing is this is a gift not only to our home’s cleanliness, but to him. Humans want to know when they are not meeting expectations. Otherwise, they have no opportunity to alter their behavior and improve.
Being open and direct with others immediately establishes trust. We all feel stronger when we are confident in our relationships, both personally and professionally. Honesty can be abrupt, so I always try to make sure I speak from a place of compassion, but being direct has tons of virtue. Everyone is healthier, physically and mentally, when communication is open and forthright.
Now that I’ve told you how to earn my respect, I know I can count on you to save the sugarcoating for someone else. I want the real shit. Go ahead, the comments section is below. Speak your truth. It’s good for your health.