I don’t know about you, but I love the song "Brave" by Sara Bareilles. Here’s the part that gets me the most:
Say what you wanna say/And let the words fall out/Honestly I wanna see you be brave
Now some people might look at that line and wonder, “What’s so brave about saying what you want to say?” And I get it – when we talk about bravery in our culture we usually mean risking your life or standing up to a physical threat. But bravery is so much more than that.
All too often, people don’t take the risk to be brave with each other. How often have you said yes when you meant no? How often have you bitten your tongue about something important to you because you’re afraid of hurting someone else?
When it comes to love and relationships, we often don’t say things that need saying. Reid Mihalko talks about this in his video about walking towards the gun. Basically, once you notice yourself not saying something, you need to figure out why it’s not being said and move towards actually being brave and talking about it.
So now you know you have something to talk about, how do you do it? Reid has a great formula for difficult conversations that can be really helpful in formulating your thoughts. Another great method that I like to use and teach others is:
Share your feelings – Tell the person how you’re feeling about having this conversation and why you’re having those feelings. “I have something to talk to you about and I feel nervous because I’m worried it will harm our relationship”
Ask for buy in – Give the person a chance to reschedule the conversation if needed. Having them say “yes” to you sharing also helps you get on the same page. “I’d like to share this with you, is this a good time?”
Say it – Find a short, clear way to say what you want to say in as neutral a way as possible. Start with the facts of the situation then talk about the impact. For facts, look at things that you could see if you were watching a video of the event. “When I heard you say you like your partner to run plans by you before they make them, then I felt confused and worried because I like to be in charge of my own schedule and I worry that you may have a different idea of how much say we have in each others’ lives than I do.”
Talk about the plan – Let them know what you want now. Do you want more information? Do you want to create a plan for the next time? Do you want to work on problem solving with them? “What I’d like is more information from you about what your preferences are so that we can figure out what works best for both of us."
Re-affirm buy-in – Ask them to join you again or for feedback on your plan. “Does that sound like a good way to handle this?”
In my opinion, each important bit we leave unsaid builds a chasm between us and the people in our lives. This isn’t to say that we should say every unkind or hurtful thing that comes to mind or that we should live with no filter, but instead that if something is important to you it is important to share it.
So be brave. Say what you want to say.
If you find that often struggle with saying what you want to say, I can help! If you're in the San Francisco area, I've got a great workshop starting June 22nd - Relationships on Purpose. We'll be talking a LOT in that class about how to figure out what you need to say, how to say it, and how to make sure you're getting your needs met. If you're not in the SF area (or workshops aren't your style), click the button that says "Set up an appointment now!" to contact me and we can talk about how to help you find your voice.