Tag Archives: authenticity

Straight Talk

By Jae Ellard, Simple Intentions Founder and CEO

[NOTE: This post originally appeared in the April 2017 print issue of Mindful Magazine]

Rear view of man gesturing with hand while standing against defocused group of people sitting at the chairs in front of him

I’ve developed a theory that the biggest driver of mindlessness at work comes from lack of communication. Most times, this is connected to the conversations we’re not having about our values, or about the boundaries we set (or don’t set) around how we live, honor, or uphold these values at work. You know the type of conversation I am talking about: the really uncomfortable one, where you know what you need to say is going to be awkward and might displease or disappoint another person.

Each day we encounter situations where we halfway communicate what we want to express, request, or need. In many cases, we do this because we fear being judged. Think about it: Have you ever edited a response because you felt uncomfortable revealing yourself and your thoughts concerning a certain topic?

  • Not sharing that you don’t agree that the redesign plan is the best choice.
  • Going along with the excitement around a new initiative even though you have serious doubts about its visibility.
  • Keeping silent about how uncomfortable it makes you that your boss brings her dog to the office every day — and it ends up in your space most of the time even though you really don’t like dogs.

So we halfway share, putting off the conversation we know is coming at some point. And, of course, the longer we avoid having it, the more uncomfortable the conversation can become.
The collective impact from having uncomfortable conversations can be truly transformational. Its effect goes beyond communication in the workplace; it can transform communication in every situation.

The path to navigating this territory with ease starts with awareness. Begin to notice when you are withholding, closing down, or not speaking up. Write about it in a private journal if that’s helpful. Then, with that awareness, begin to experiment with expressing your thoughts, needs, and desires one conversation at a time using the following tips to push through the discomfort.

Offer Context
It isn’t just about assigning blame. It is about creating dialogue around toxic and disruptive issues, so all involved can feel heard and choose to create a different reality. Offer context as to what the issue is, in a nonjudgmental way, this kind of sharing builds compassion and allows everyone to get on the same page. It’s when we don’t offer context that the discomfort grows.

Invite Options
If someone is making a request that isn’t possible, say so and invite a conversation about what is possible. It’s important to ask how that might work for the person making the request. Explaining, offering another solution, and inviting dialogue increases the sense of sharing and collaboration.

Be Sincere
Say what you mean with grace, respect, and as much authenticity as possible. When you speak from the heart, even if others don’t like or agree with the message, the energy behind the intention comes through. Odds are strong that your honesty will help things to shift.

With this in mind, what is one uncomfortable conversation you are willing to have today?

 

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We Leak Our Truth

By LeAnn Elkins, Friend of Simple Intentions

“MomLeak Our Truth_0630, you’ve been giving the baby about 30% too much formula vs. water.  Please use the measuring spoon I’ve put in the diaper bag and then add the corresponding amount of water.”

Yes, this is my son giving me feedback on how to properly fix a bottle for my grandson. I could take it as a personal attack on my abilities as a grandmother, but instead I know my son. He has, for as long as I can remember, been a factual and data-based communicator. This request was no different than his request as a young boy on how to prepare his sandwich with the appropriate proportion of peanut butter to jelly.  He is simply “leaking his truth!” His particular truth being a strong sense of correctness and order in everything he does and wanting those around him to do the same.

We leak our truth, whether we know it or not, and it’s a steady, unstoppable drip. Our truth is not necessarily what we say is important or even what we think is important. Our truth is:

  • the reaction we have to situations
  • our values in action
  • those inner most thoughts and feelings about self and others
  • how and where we spend our time and money

Though it can be challenging, there are indeed times where we can recognize our leaks. Often it takes others pointing these leaks out for us to truly understand their presence. Try out an exercise to identify your own leaks. Start by writing down some descriptors of self and what you most value. Share this list with a trusted colleague and/or friend, asking them to add to the list using their experiences of you. Have this person share with you how you “leak truths” about yourself as they occur. Look at your list often and compare it to what’s happening in your day to day actions. You may be amazed at how often you leak your truth without realizing it – and you also might find that these truths are not in alignment with your perception of self or stated values.

What this is really about is having the courage to own your truth. Instead of trying to be whom you think others want you to be or who you’ve been told to be (which can lead to so much wasted energy and even stress), just be you – the truth will leak out anyway! LOVE and HONOR these truths and how they are serving you and those around you. Get to really know them and let them shine — this is the authentic you and you are enough!

“This above all:  to thine own self be true.”  William Shakespeare

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Authenticity and Holding Us Able

By Chelsea Elkins, Simple Intentions Marketing Manager

traveling vanThis past summer was one of great learning for me. One of the teachings that really resonated is the concept that speaks to authenticity: holding each other able.

There are two parts to this. First, I hold the people in my life capable of or “able” to voice their needs. And second, I, in turn, have committed to being honest and authentic about what I need and want in the world. Essentially, I say what I mean, and I trust that the people around me are doing the same.

Simple, right? Just be your word.

Applying this philosophy over the past five months has been almost laughably difficult. I have long struggled with expressing what I want, a block that comes from an ingrained desire to take care of others before myself, even when it is completely unnecessary. I also sometimes find I have already decided that the recipient of my request would not want do a, b or c for x, y and z reasons. In these instances I don’t even bother to ask, making the decision for them and potentially depriving them of something they would have enjoyed.

When I am able to work up the nerve to ask for what I want, I sometimes doubt that I am getting honest answers in response. I am one who has the constant desire to check in: “Are you having fun?” “Are you sure you want to do this with me?” “Do you really mean that?” It must be maddening (and I’m putting that gently) to my more resolute friends and family members.

This stems from past instances when I agreed to do something I didn’t really want to do. With this in mind, I tend to give my friends and family members numerous ways out of a plan or agreement, lest the same thing happen to them. The consequence of this is I effectively ignore both parts of the holding each other able promise, and the cycle not only continues for myself but is forced upon those around me.

Simply put, holding each other able is a hard concept to live into.

Holding ourselves and each other able requires both courage and vulnerability, which, as most of us can attest, are challenging to summon. Articulating exactly what we mean, even if it’s not what others want to hear, and trusting that those around us will do the same, does not come naturally at first.

However, if we are able to successfully hold each other able, the benefits would be stunning. It would inevitably lead to lower stress, better communication, and all the other benefits that come when you live authentically. It would eliminate the need for constant check-ins and needless caregiving, which can be detrimental. It gives the responsibility back to each of us to honestly say what we need. This would allow us to live life with more confidence, joy and simplicity. If there’s one thing I hope to master this year, it’s this:

Hold me able, and I’ll do the same.

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