Fundamental of the Week #3: Speak Straight, Respectfully

Speak honestly and clearly in a way that moves the action forward. Say what you mean. Ask questions for clarity, share ideas and be willing to raise issues, even if they may create conflict, when it is needed for success or maintaining collaboration. Address issues directly with those who are involved or affected. Take responsibility for getting your message across.

How many times over the years have I kept quiet or candy-coated a communication out of a concern that I would anger someone, lose relationship with someone or look foolish? Too many to count. In a recent conversation with a client, I suggested that most breakdowns, if not all, are the result of some conversation that was not had. Too many times over the years I would look back and realize the opportunity I had missed to contribute genuine value to moving the game forward.

Further, It took a long time for me to learn that every time I didn’t speak up, whatever I didn’t speak up about, got buried and slowly started to grow until at some point I had built a case against an individual, a group, or an organization. Meanwhile building doubt about myself. Opportunities were missed and resentments were nurtured!

A big part of the problem was me confusing “straight talk” with being abrasive, confrontational or righteous. I had a limiting belief that I could either be straight about something or I could be respectful. Learning to put these two together is a powerful discovery.

What follows is this: “There is very little one cannot say, no matter how contentious, if the communication is delivered with respect.” It takes respecting oneself enough to call out the issue that may have kept the game from moving forward. It takes respecting others enough and being big enough to be able to speak straight, respectfully, even if it’s not good news.

Straight talk has power, efficiency, and simplicity, when it is grounded in respect.

Craig Clark
Founder and CEO,
Momentum Consulting, Inc