How to cultivate great relationships in the workplace – Voice your truth
Is there a vulnerable or edgy conversation you’d like to invite someone to join you in having…but you’re not sure where to start?
In my last blog I shared three ways to become even better at listening for meaning – a key to unlocking courageous conversations.
 
Today I’m asking, what is the real conversation that wants to be had, and how can you and I meet with others in the in-between space to have it?
 
More and more, I locate leadership in the small yet courageous acts that invite people to meet in the ‘in-between spaces’ to have the next real conversation that needs to be had.
 
Stepping into the in-between is brave. It is a move away from the perceived security of what it is I think I know, to meet with another in a place that gently demands the humility of curiosity. 
 
This is no small thing, for it asks that we do two things: know and voice our own truth and invite another to voice theirs.
 
Curiosity is a better container than certainty to hold what is emerging
 
Meaningful change only occurs when courageous exchanges take place. To have the conversations we know we need to have but may wish to avoid, we need thinking places designed for mutual inquiry where we can discover that what is really emerging in our organizations, teams and relationships, is more than any one individual knows.
 
If leadership – in whatever capacity you find yourself bringing those qualities – is about inviting people to think with you in the in-between spaces, how can we do this more skilfully?
 
I have two simple thoughts on this that I’d like to add to what you already know.
 
To hear another’s voice we must first learn to hear our own.
 
For others to join us in the in-between space, they must feel safe. 
 
Learning to hear your own authentic voice
 
Voicing our truth is vulnerable. But, to have the important conversations we may find challenging to have, we must be willing to do our own work.
 
This is about having an intentional conversation with yourself to understand your individual truth as you understand it today, which is not the same as the absolute truth and may be entirely subject to change!
 
The wonderful poet and philosopher, David Whyte, puts this self-work so beautifully in this excerpt from his poem, Start Close In:
 
To hear
another’s voice,
follow
your own voice,
wait until
that voice
 
becomes a
private ear
that can
really listen
to another.
 
One simple way to start this self-work
 
Let me share a powerful three-step exercise you can use to hear your own voice on an issue.
 
On a page, create three columns. In the first column, capture your observations about the current reality. What can you ‘objectively’ describe about the issue? Now review that list. Have opinions, stories and interpretations snuck in there? If so, move these to column 2.
 
In column 2, for each fact you’ve put down capture your thoughts – the ideas, judgments, interpretations and evaluations you have attached to them. For example, for the fact: no salary increase in 2 years, you may be thinking, ‘I dont know where I stand’. Be honest with yourself. Where has a previous experience coloured your assessment? Where have you leapt to a firm conclusion without having all the facts?
 
Finally, in column 3, write down as many feeling statements as you can in relation to this issue. If you struggle to identify with how you are feeling, using a feelings wheel can be extremely helpful. You may find yourself in one or several of the six core feelings humans tend to experience. Have a look at those feeling statements again. Have you described judgements of what you are feeling (e.g. I feel like you don’t listen to me), or specifically named your feelings (e.g. I feel hurt when you don’t ask my opinion)? 
 
Doing this kind of self-work can make all the difference to the quality of the conversation you end up having in the in-between. I can highly recommend the brilliant book Life Changing Conversations by the marvellous Sarah Rozenthuler, from which I have selected this exercise. 
 
Download your complementary copy of the Truth Inventory exercise.
  
 
Your mission, should you choose to accept it…
 
Is to make yourself a cuppa and take some time to reflect on this question: ‘What is the next courageous conversation I need to have with myself before I can have it with another?’ Put some time aside to listen to yourself. This is one way you can value your voice and honour your individual truth.
 
In my next newsletter I’ll look at part two of this topic: how to invite others to join you in the in-between space in a way that helps them feel safe to do so. 
 
Here’s to you and to great relationships in the workplace!

More
articles

Deasert Spring shape
Deasert Spring shape
Deasert Spring shape
Deasert Spring shape