We’re about to enter a season filled with joy…and frustration. As you bump up against friends, family, and colleagues that are showing up in a way that leaves you sad, stressed, or angry, don’t avoid them or pour fuel on the fire – consider getting it out in the open in a way that fosters connection. Here’s a possibility on how to do it…
How to Get to Your Truth Without Blame or Judgment
By Becky Lemon, 12/5/18
The phrase “Speak Your Truth Without Blame or Judgment” is many things – it’s a directive, it’s part of the values we originally adopted for Vestalia Hospitality, and it is the foundation of an immense concept about self-awareness and creativity put forth by social anthropologist Angeles Arriens.
It’s also a mouthful, and there is great temptation to shorten it to “speak your truth.”
Merely “speaking your truth” though might not get you the same results, there is magic that happens when you dig deeper and find the essence of what you need to express. This is especially true when we’re experiencing conflict or when we need to give someone difficult feedback.
Imagine you’ve got a truth you want to communicate; how do you know if it’s without blame or judgment? If the truth you want to express will shut people down, put up walls, invite a defensive response, or set up a you vs. them dynamic, you’ve still got some blame and judgment in there. If it opens up room for discussion, understanding, and allows competing points of view, you’re free or darn near close to being free of blame or judgment.
Part of what makes this hard to figure out is that many of us are so accustomed to bundling our truths with blame and judgment that we’re often not sure what a truth looks or sounds like without it.
What is the act of speaking your truth without blame or judgment? It’s taking a risk and saying the thing that needs to be said in order to increase understanding and create possibilities. It’s calling it like it is, without any stories or assumptions attached, from the teller’s point of view. It’s communicating your perception of people, things, experiences without claiming any absolutes or defining someone else’s actions or character. It’s recognizing and sharing what you’ve got inside of you as your truth, not the truth.
It usually takes time and thought to sift through our blame and judgment to uncover our perceptions or how a person or situation made us feel. To get started, consider practicing the following:
- Take a moment to reflect on what’s going on
- Ask yourself what you’re feeling, don’t stop until you have an answer that really clicks with you
- Identify what you need in the situation that you’re not getting
- Figure out how to express those truths as your perception, not as fact. Here are some examples:
What you said was so mean vs. That thing you said hurt my feelings
You’re upset, I can tell you’re mad at me vs. Something doesn’t feel good between us, do you feel that too? What’s going on?
I can’t talk to you, you’re being so defensive vs. I’m having a hard time communicating with you right now, I feel like I’m not being heard.
“I feel, I notice…” vs. “You should, you always, you never…”
Speaking your truth without blame or judgment, saying that thing that needs to be said, isn’t about having license to recklessly hurt or control someone, or to push your own agenda. It’s about increasing shared understanding of whatever is getting you stuck so you can create a new and supportive way of relating to one another.
Thank you for reading, please send any thoughts, ideas, feedback (speak your truth without blame or judgment!), or challenges my way on this piece. Take care and happy truthing! -Becky