Recently I spoke to someone I hired to guide a client’s drowning business to safety. Smart and well-intentioned, I felt I could trust him. But after six months of great work, results started to slip. When the third deadline whooshed by, I spoke to him. “It seems you’re stretched thin…” “We need to revisit this and get the ball rolling…”
I danced. Instead of saying what I wanted to say: “We need results. I hired you to take responsibility, to save time, not so I could manage you. It seems you’ve checked out, but we’re still writing checks to you each month…”
“Too harsh,” I’d think. He’s smart and well-intentioned, that’s why I hired him. Let him be.
For the next four months, we danced around it again and again. I’d say, “Let’s re-energize” using new words to avoid saying what I really meant. It was hard every time.
Weeks went by. I became frustrated at my own lack of courage. Dancing made it worse. It gave the appearance that continuing as is was okay. Finally, I was too tired to do anything but tell the truth.
Dancing will do that to you.
I spoke to him. “I don’t have the energy to do this anymore. I feel like I’ve been managing it on my own. I don’t know what I’ll do, but this isn’t working. I don’t feel confident moving ahead.”
Before I got the words out, I felt relief. Pent up anger melted. For the first time in six months, I wasn’t worried. I didn’t know what I’d do next, but I didn’t mind. In the middle of an awkward conversation I felt happy.
Are you feeling unexpressed right now? Are you trying to soften the blow or scurry around a hard conversation? Stop dancing the night away and speak what’s in your soul.
There is no substitution for being clear. There is power in speaking the truth plainly. It helps you, it helps them.
Arya Samaj, a Hindu movement based on the Vedas, says, “Speak the truth seasoned with sweetness.” We can be kind, but also clear. So often we think to spare other’s feelings we must compromise our own. We don’t need to do that anymore. Being kind to someone and expressing yourself are not mutually exclusive. It’s our desire to avoid hurting someone in the first place that keeps us in the fog; fog that leads to misunderstanding. Respect yourself and the other – choose to be clear and step out of the fog. Because we don’t fumble for words when we tell the truth, we fumble when we dance around it.
I’d love to hear some of your moments when you’ve danced or met your challenge head on. How did it feel to dance? How did it feel to speak clearly?
I love to dance. But let’s save it for the dancefloor, shall we?