Life Design Action: Celebrate National Straight Talking Day
Requires: Words, courage and an opportunity (we make our own opportunities)
Does not require: Angst, aggression, bottling up feelings, holding in or wedge building
When one lives in a very small community on a very small diamond shaped island, one tends to come face to face with the same people over and over again. These people fall into four distinct categories.
a) SMILERS. People you walk past, smile at and acknowledge (because you once had a conversation with them in the post office 4.5 years ago and have retained a nice, pleasant acknowledgement ritual ever since).
b) EXTRAS. People you don’t know, have never spoken to, yet have seen on a daily/weekly basis for nearly fifteen years. They are the familiar faces belonging to the waitress in the café, or the man who stands at the bus stop or the crazy newspaper delivery boy. Like old pictures of seascapes framed on the wall of your grandparent’s bungalow, you barely even notice them anymore.
c) THRUSTERS. People you are thrust upon and who are thrust upon you. This can be through family, work or social groups. You know people who They know so inevitably you end up being thrust into conversations at some point. 20% of Thrusters are BRILLIANT and you love them and they become lifelong friends, 60% are nice and you befriend them on Facebook …
But some of them – 20% of them –
Are Bloody Hard Work.
You try and you try to make polite conversation, have a laugh, crack a joke or develop some deeper relationship based on the fact you share the same 3 by 4 miles of Planet Earth. But no. After each interaction you walk away wondering whether you are even worthy of being on this planet.
See, some Thrusters don’t smile. They look past you, over your shoulder, waiting for a more important person to come along and talk to. They give you the distinct impression that they know a deep, rancid secret about your past, have been discussing it and that their personal judge and jury have warned them away from you.
The other day I was sitting in Ads’ deli, supping my juice, when I saw one such Thruster from my past walk by.
“See him?” I said to Fosbury Goddess, who had whisked down from London for a wildly impromptu visit.
wanker not very nice person.”
Nearby a man who was eating a goats cheese and beetroot salad, dropped his fork.
“I spent YEARS trying to be mates with that guy,” I continued, with feeling. “Years! And I always thought that I was somehow not good enough, but actually, the reality is, he was just a
wanker not very nice person.”
Fosbury Goddess and I then proceeded to have a conversation about being young and desperately pursuing Bad Thrusters in a weird attempt to get that Bad Thruster to like you (because obviously we are all dreadfully unlikable and it must be US who is somehow wrong and defective and not the Bad Thruster we are talking to).
The Fosbury Goddess had a fantastic, straight forward position on the subject. She said, “If I am talking to someone and its clear that we don’t like each other, I’ve stopped trying to make them like me. Instead I just say, “I don’t think we like each other,” and then I walk away.”
I looked at her.
I liked this straight forward style.
Fosbury Goddess continued, “Straight talking is a neat interaction. No one has to get upset and it saves a hell of a lot of time and energy.”
She paused thoughtfully. “I think there should be a National Straight Talking Day.”
WHAT an idea.
**********National Straight Talking Day***********
Er – yeah?
Imagine how much of our stuff could be sorted out in just 24 hours!
Since that idea exploded into my brain cells, I can’t seem to stop myself from not straight-talking and it is possibly the most liberating thing ever.
So far I have discovered that:
a) Straight talking doesn’t burn your insides with acid poison leaving you writhing on the floor, vomiting and wailing for help. There is life after asserting your needs!
b) Straight talking gets stuff sorted quickly, effectively and helpfully so you can get on with doing your shiz.
c) Straight talking doesn’t need excuses or lots of words. Just a no or yes can do.
I have also learned …
Straight Talking takes practise. Is it just the British who are conditioned into people pleasing? Why are we behaving like mutated Brownies, wondering around our relationships, letting other people use our intestines as red carpets to walk upon? Straight talking isn’t about dominating or hurting others, but it is about asserting what works for us and what doesn’t in a relationship (intimate, family, social or business) and then not being wilted by the racking guilt that we have upset someone and may not be liked.
Straight Talking takes courage. After years of keeping our mouths shut and bottling up our feelings, to say how we feel about something can be very much OUT of the comfort zone. Often people will only have the courage to say what they mean when all of those cooped up feelings have got to much. Finally we’ve “had enough” and then explode in angry accusations. This isn’t straight talking. This is angry talking. Try to step out of your comfort zone and create strong boundaries around what is good for you and what is not. Once you’ve done this a couple of times it gets easier.
Straight Talking can make you rich! No one wants to be a taker, but everyone wants to be a giver – right? We are all comfortable with being generous, but what about receiving what is ours too? I’ve learned from my coaching workshops that 80% of people are squeamishly uncomfortable about asking for money/talking about money and guess what? Most of these people are poor. Enough said on that one.
Straight Talking builds your chi. People waste YEARS of life and a lot of energy by avoiding straight talking. Things unsaid but deeply felt simmer and brew for weeks, months even years, robbing the person of their peace. Over the last week I have done some serious straight talking, not just with people, but with myself. The effect has literally detoxed my head and my heart and my energy levels are starting to pick up.
So – straight talking. Who would have known?