How many times today have you refrained from saying what you are thinking and feeling? Are you aware that you are holding back, and if so, are you aware of why?
- Sometimes we don’t want to hurt another’s feelings.
- Sometimes we don’t want to hurt our feelings.
- Sometimes we are frightened of the consequences of offering up our truth; what will it open up that becomes a tide who’s flow we cannot stem?
- Sometimes it just feels plain uncomfortable to speak up or out and we don’t know why.
- Sometimes we don’t feel we will be listened to
- Sometimes we fear being embarrassed
I’ve no doubt that you/me could continue to add to this. Sometimes too, there is a good reason to hold your peace, to keep your counsel, to just listen and say nothing.
But there are many more occasions when bringing our feelings, thoughts, doubts and fears into the open shifts something.
I got stuck with a piece of work last week; I took away something from someone who was swamped. Said ” I’ll sort it”. I struggled all week, I just couldn’t see a start point. My thinking was muddy and messy, I got distracted. I had to stop. Life stuff happened. I had to manage a little queasy feeling of panic. I was discombobulated. I decided I just had to forgo my fees and own up. I phoned my client, who laughed and described their own week. Asked me a few questions, which made me realise that whilst I didn’t have much written down, I had done some useful thinking and it sort of freed me to produce something concrete and useful the next day.
But it was really hard to make that call.
Sometimes it’s hard to say “I don’t know what to do next”, or “I’m stuck” or “I don’t understand you”. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell a client/boss/partner/friend that you disagree with them. Sometimes it’s easier to walk past a distressed co-worker than to stress yourself by stepping out of your own busyness into a situation which is unknown and sometimes, it’s easier to ignore emotionality than to enter into it.
Sometimes, the truth appears harder to share than it is to hold on to that hard knot inside.
Organisations are not designed to facilitate the types of dialogue I am reflecting on here so we have to work on it constantly; but oh wouldn’t the world of work be so much more productive if it was considered legitimate and necessary to sometimes feel discombobulated, embarrassed and vulnerable.