Gratitude for Straight Talk

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Are you getting together with family for Thanksgiving?

What will you talk about? Football?  Religion? Politics? 

Sometimes, hot topics can overshadow what we’re most grateful for. One thing I’m grateful for this year is people who speak their mind. 

My brother is one of those people.

Today he called to talk about the presidential election of 2020 and statistical abnormalities he had read regarding a swing state that may have affected the outcome. It was enlightening and thought provoking, as he and I tend to have different political perspectives. But, we deeply value our relationship and take extra care with our word choice in these discussions. We don’t hedge or hold back, but speak from truth, not just opinion and emotion. 

We do our best to speak straight respectfully.

This is Thanksgiving week in the United States, and this year of all years may seem like a bad year to discuss religion and politics. But maybe the opposite is true. Perhaps this is the time to grant trust, speak your truth, and listen generously. 

Two important things I notice about speaking straight respectfully:

  1. This organizational fundamental could almost be called listening straight respectfully (see more on listening skills in this article by Tracey Nelson from last week), because how we speak is greatly shaped by how we listen and take in information. Example: When I’m talking to my brother about politics, I’m listening for my own bias, for his bias, and for factual information.
  2. The word “factual” is important. I looked it up: Factual – (adjective): concerned with what is actually the case rather than interpretations of or reactions to it. 
    • Factual speaking is straight, because it implies being truthful, accurate and independent of bias or embellishment. It’s not truth itself as actual facts can be hard to come by, but it’s an earnest effort to get there. 
    • Factual speaking is respectful, because it doesn’t diminish the other side and seeks to discover a common reality. 

If you’re feeling bold and want to dive into some real conversation with family and friends this year, here are some recommended guidelines on how to speak straight respectfully:

  1. Create some ground rules: No accusations, no name-calling, no bad language … etc.
  2. Seek to understand before being understood.
  3. Be factual. Resist interpretations and hyperbole in order to bolster your case.
  4. Give up being “right”, as in a righteous attitude. 
  5. Take breaks when it gets too hot. (You could use a walk after all that turkey anyway.)
  6. Don’t take anything personally and don’t make assumptions. (Agreements 2 & 3: Don Miguel Ruiz)
  7. Set up the environment. (Adults only, alcohol-free, remove sharp utensils … etc.)
  8. Know your audience. (If you know Uncle Fred or Grandma Jojo get contentious quickly, you may want to reconsider.)
  9. No ganging up on minority opinions.
  10. Listen.

As we near the end of an historic year what grateful wisdom will you take into 2021?

What truth of yours needs to be expressed?

We really do want to know.


We write these articles every week, and without you and your comments they just kind of float out into the ether of the internet, so let us hear from you.



Organizational Fundamental #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.

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