It’s What You Don’t Say that Runs the Show

I learned so much from my first life and business coach; lessons that I’m still using today in both my business and in my life as well as with my own coaching clients, some 20-plus years later. Now that’s lasting value. (Thanks Judy B.)

One of the most valuable lessons revolving around communication was the principle — “It’s what you don’t say that runs the show.” To say it a bit more accurately, it’s those things we feel like we can’t say for fear that we’ll get into trouble with the other person that end up shaping the relationship and often in ways that ultimately are unhealthy for everyone involved.

From the Life On Purpose Perspective, this is also one sure way that the fear of the Inherited Purpose ends up shaping our lives.  While it may manifest in many different ways, the principle is the same.  We try to avoid getting into trouble or confronting another person, and sure enough that fear starts to affect how we relate to the other person. We may find ourselves shutting down, or beginning to pile up some really negative judgments, all of which separate us from the other person.

For example, several years ago Ann and I were having some really challenging times in our marriage, basically because I was being an ass and she was afraid to call me on it. We seemed to be stuck in a endless loop of arguing with me constantly finding fault with just about everything Ann did. Finally, after attending a weekend event as a Seminar Leader for Landmark Education where she requested and received some powerful coaching on the matter, she came home and told me, “We need to talk.” (four words no man ever wants to hear from his mate.)

We sat down in the living room.  We were both nervous for different reasons. Ann was afraid she’d not be able to say what she felt in her heart needed to be said without my flying off the handle.  Meanwhile, while I didn’t know exactly what she wanted to talk about, I knew it wasn’t going to be good.

And sure enough it wasn’t.  She basically told me that while she still loved me a great deal, she didn’t know if I still loved her, and if I did, I needed to start showing it. She was no longer willing to have our marriage continue in the way it had been over the last several months.  It was time for me to either change my attitude and how I treated her or we’d have to go our separate ways.

Now, if you know Ann, you know that such a confronting conversation isn’t easy for her.  She admits it was one of the hardest conversations she’s ever had to have.  At the same time, we both know it made such a tremendous difference in our relationship.  I’d say it was a turning point for us.

How to Speak Your Truth

So knowing that it’s what you fear you can’t say that can ultimately undermine and destroy a relationship, how do you go about saying what you need to say without everything blowing up in your face?

Principle #2 comes from the 28 Attraction Principles for Living On Purpose:

Develop the skill to be able to tell the truth in a way that it can be heard. Orienting yourself around telling the truth allows others to get in touch with their own truth and purpose, and it’s a great way to express your own.

Over the years I’ve developed this further to:  Share your heartfelt truth with another in a way that it can be heard as it’s intended — as a contribution.

This principles moves you from your Inherited Purpose (fear) shaping the conversation to your true, Divinely Inspired Life Purpose (love, i.e. heartfelt).

Notice, I’m talking about sharing “your truth” which isn’t necessarily the same as “the Truth,” though many of us fail to recognize the distinction.  Our truth is what is true for us in the moment, and may or may not have any direct relationship with the larger Truth — the Cosmic Truth. It’s often a matter of perspective, and in any given relationship each person involved has their own perspective, and that’s okay.  It’s only when we collapse the notion of ‘my truth’ with the “Cosmic Truth” that we get ourselves into trouble.

From Insights into Action

Another powerful tool I learned from Coach Judy was this coaching formula:

I  +   A  =  G&D

Insights plus Action equals true Growth and Development. In other words, the insights that you may have gleaned from this article won’t make it real difference without your taking action to integrate them into your life.  So here is a ‘coaching assignment’ I invite you to take on this week:

1. Identify someone with whom you have some ‘stuck communication’ — something you’ve been afraid to talk with them about for whatever reason.  You can decide whether to start with a big issue or something smaller.

2. Identify what is your truth regarding this matter with this person?  At this point, don’t worry about how you might say it.  If you could just say it straight out, what would be?  (For Ann it might have been something like – “Brad you’re being a real ass with me and I’m fed up with it.  You either get your act together or take a walk.”)

3. Identify what is the heartfelt commitment that is being thwarted or jeopardized by this matter not being communicated?  This step will help you shift from the fear mode to the heart mode.  (For Ann, the heartfelt commitment being thwarted was our commitment to being happily married. Recognizing this helped her to seek coaching on this matter.)

4. Once you’re as fully present to the heartfelt commitment as possible, ask yourself, “How can I share my truth and have the other person hear it as it’s intended — as a contribution?  This step may take some time.  As you ponder upon it, stay connected to your heart and to Divine Guidance.

I know this is not an easy assignment — but I truly believe if you take it on you will find it to be a valuable transformational tool, and remember — “Anything and everything can be resolved through communication.” (Another truism I learned from Coach Judy.)

I’d love to hear your comments, questions and how you see this could enhance your life on purpose.