My epiphany came during our weekly staff meeting, after having to sit through my boss’ slide show from his
summer vacation; we had gathered for business
and ended up enduring two hours of
family photos. As soon as the slides were over
and the lights went back on, Bob (my boss)
turned to us and said, “Well, how did you
“Wow!” I exclaimed. “It was really nice.”
My friend Carl, who was sitting across from me, was a little more honest. “We could have gone there and back in the time it took you to show those slides,” he said.
Bob was offended and walked out of the room.
Carl looked over at me and said, “You know, you’re a kiss-up.”
“Well,” I replied, “you’re rude.”
I went back to my office and, for the first time, really questioned my communication style.
How about you? Have you ever questioned your communication style? Once I started paying attention to mine, I wondered, usually after I’d made a mess of things, “Why did I say that?” Or, “There I go again—I said the wrong thing, at the wrong time. Again.” Or, “Will I ever be able to talk to that person without blowing up?”
Somehow, what I said was not what I wanted or intended.
At other times, I didn’t say anything at all, I just walked away saying, “I wish I’d said...I should have said...” Obviously, none of us are born with perfect communication skills. While having the best intentions, I found I sometimes spoke in ways that hurt people; at times, I even found myself withholding the truth as a means of trying not to hurt people.
I just didn’t get it.
I didn’t realize I could learn to speak the truth honestly, directly and respectfully—saying exactly what I meant—and so live at peace with myself and those in my life: my spouse, children, neighbors, co-workers, my employer... (I even learned to speak effectively with those who I wished weren’t in my life!)
In the pages that follow, I’ll share my journey with you as a husband, father, therapist, mediator and minister, as I came to learn the value of being honest, direct, and respectful. As we travel together through these chapters, Honest, Direct and Respectful…Three Simple Words That Will Change Your Life will help you: