November 20, 2008
Sometimes we think that appreciation is all about being “nice.” That’s not the case. Appreciation, in my opinion, is about recognizing the value of someone or something and about being able to empower ourselves and others. It is, however, also about coming from a place of gratitude, respect, and truth in our relationships with the people around us. Giving people honest feedback can be one of the best ways to appreciate them and let them know we that we care about them. This, however, isn’t always easy.
First of all, to give someone honest feedback you must have a foundation of trust and appreciation in your relationship with them. It’s also important to ask their permission and make sure it’s okay with them before you launch into your feedback.
Often we wait until it’s too late or we don’t say something because we’re scared about how they might react. It’s easy to say nothing or to just “blow smoke.” However, it takes real courage to speak your truth to another person.
The key is your intention. If your intention is to make a difference for that person, “clear” something that might be in your way with them, or help them see something they may not be able to see – you’re coming from a place that can empower and ultimately support that person. If your intention is to be superior, to show them how wrong they are and how right you are, or some version of either of these two things – you’re coming from your ego and your “truth” will most likely push them away.
I’ve recently been confronted with a number of situations like this in my own life. I’ve handled some of them very poorly – either by not speaking up or doing so in a self-righteous or ineffective way. There have been a handful of situations, however, where I’ve had the courage to speak up and say what was on my mind and in doing so something wonderful happened. Regardless of how we go about this, in the end it’s almost always better for us to speak up than not. We learn more about ourselves, get closer to the other person, and grow in the process.
When someone speaks a “hard truth” to me, I know that have a tendency to push back and defend myself initially. Once that happens, however, I’m usually able to hear their feedback and learn from it. Most importantly, I always appreciate their willingness and courage to say something honest and potentially vulnerable to me.
Look at your relationships – especially the most important ones. Where are you not telling the truth, not giving feedback, or worried to say something honest? What would it take for you to be willing to tell them the truth? What are you afraid of? What would be possible in your relationship with them if you spoke up?
I challenge to you to pick a few important people in your life that you’ve been afraid to speak your truth to and just do it. Remember that speaking your truth (with appreciation, honesty, and kindness) is a great gift for the people in your life and is one of the best ways you can acknowledge them and strengthen your relationship.