So often we can find ourselves in a situation where we’re apprehensive about speaking up, tip-toeing nervously around people, not wanting to cause offence or be seen in a negative or unfavourable light.
The problem with this approach is that our words and body language may well be out of sync with each other, which then can cause confusion or uncertainty in our relationships. Our manner may be misconstrued as hostile, unfriendly or unclear. As much of our communication is done non-verbally it really is important to say what you mean and mean what you say.
Let’s consider some familiar situations.
– Apologies can include many elements. We may well have felt that a situation warranted something being said but afterwards have regretted our tone or the upset and rift that has since occurred. In most cases major disharmony will not be the intention and we’ve simply wanted to clear the air, so we may need to find an appropriate moment in which to apologise for the hurt and distress that’s been caused. There’s no desire to retract everything, especially if certain grievances needed to be voiced but, on reflection, it may be that our communications could have been handled more sensitively or at a more appropriate time.
– Do you hate to say no? We may be loathe to decline requests and say no but then find ourselves increasingly overwhelmed with things we don’t want to do. Or we may gradually realise that we’re taking on more and more tasks and responsibilities. What needs to happen in those instances?
Might it be that we need to find better ways of saying no, of learning to delegate or discretely removing ourselves from the equation? Before you find yourself automatically agreeing to everything stop and assess if you really want to be involved; do you want to do this, have you the time or inclination to take on yet another commitment or arrangement? Consider how you feel about it and, when relevant, find appropriately assertive ways to say no.
– Are you reluctant to say yes? Equally, we may be a little unsure or lacking in confidence and struggle to say yes to things that we suspect others are better at. Or we may speculate as to why we’re being included or invited. The problem with declining too many invitations is that we may eventually not be asked along. Find ways to feel more positive about yourself, maybe by having some counselling and hypnotherapy. Then select the things which appeal, those which you want to do, so you can really mean why you say and say what you mean.
– Do you find it hard to be honest and say what you mean or express how you feel? Doing this can at first require a little forethought about your choice of words, especially if you’re moving into unfamiliar vocal territory. If others are eloquent, better educated or nit-picky about the way things are said, if they regularly ascribe inferences and take offence when none was intended it can result in us becoming hesitant about expressing ourselves.
We can become fearful of being jumped upon or of having our words dissected and criticised. Practise what you want to say in advance, preferably running though a few alternative scenarios. Familiarise yourself with those different options; then you can become more confident and sure that you mean what you say.
– What about ‘white lies’? Should they receive some consideration? The ‘do I look okay?’ or pressure to appreciate someone’s efforts on our behalf may be a time when we need to consider the requirement to be polite and courteous rather than too blunt or honest. When we’re supportive, encouraging and acknowledging of someone’s efforts it may be more appropriate to offer appreciation, with a few generous words, so enabling their day to continue in a more upbeat way.
There may be opportunities to deliver subtle hints, like ‘I prefer you in the blue’ or ‘here, let me show you how to do this’, but saying what you mean can be tailored to allow you to be kind in a loyal, affectionate way.
– Choosing your words with care so that you’re genuine and open helps build good, solid relationships. There’s no hidden agenda or desire to manipulate, coerce or gain an unfair advantage by being devious or duplicitous.
Counselling and hypnotherapy offers effective ways of improving your self-worth and dealing with old, unwanted ways of thinking about yourself and healing automatic, reactive responses that no longer serve you well. Invest in yourself because you’re important. Then you’re in a better position to say what you mean and mean what you say.
Susan Leigh, counsellor, hypnotherapist, relationship counsellor, writer & media contributor offers help with relationship issues, stress management, assertiveness and confidence. She works with individual clients, couples and provides corporate workshops and support.
She’s author of 3 books, ‘Dealing with Stress, Managing its Impact’, ‘101 Days of Inspiration #tipoftheday’ and ‘Dealing with Death, Coping with the Pain’, all on Amazon & with easy to read sections, tips and ideas to help you feel more positive about your life.