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Speaking Your Truth In The Workplace

Written by: Melissa Dawn, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

From frontline workers to C-level execs, nearly everyone I coach has the same fear - speaking their truth in the workplace.


Why is that, and how do we shift this pattern?

Why Truth Matters


Truth is about saying what needs to be said. It’s sharing ideas, resolving conflict, highlighting risk, raising solutions, and calling out bad behavior or toxic practices. It’s all the things that drive progress and empower agility.


Shying away from truth demands a defensive mindset of self-protection and the energy to continually “check” ourselves to ensure our work persona is upheld. We get locked in the status quo with no safe space for progress.


Why We Fear Speaking Up


Traditionally, we’ve defined respect as treating someone like an authority figure; a person who lays down the law hands out rewards and punishments and should never be disagreed with. It’s how many of us grew up and even how our careers started out.


This makes respect feel like a relationship of fear, with no room for truth. That needs to change.


Redefining Respect


Respect and professionalism can absolutely co-exist with the truth if we define them in an empowering way:

  • Respect means to honor the human

  • Professional means to honor the organization

It’s respectful to see others as human beings who are receptive to truth. It’s professional to acknowledge organizational values and objectives and do our best to align with them.


Here are some examples of what that could look like:

  • “I spotted a potential roadblock in the plan. A lot of work went into this, and I want it to succeed. Do you have a minute to hear my concerns?”

  • “We seem to be butting heads on this timeline. I know there’s a company objective, and I see you have concerns about that. Tell me what you’re experiencing.”

  • “I know we’re going through a challenging time, and I want to help work through that. The problem is, I’ve been putting in too many evenings and weekends. I feel like I’m burning out and need time to recharge. Can we discuss some options?”

  • “I felt really energized last week when I partnered with the other department. I feel I have a lot to contribute and wonder if you’d be open to me partnering with them again and perhaps growing my career in that direction long term?”

  • “I’ve been thinking about the vision I hold for the organization and want to ensure it’s aligned with the corporate vision, or if I need to make adjustments. Would you help me get clarity?”

  • “I had an idea. From my perspective, it’s in line with corporate objectives, but I realize I may have blind spots. Can I get your feedback?”

These openers all take a curiosity approach that is both respectful and professional and empowers progress through truth, rather than allowing fear, discomfort, or outdated ideas of respect to lead to bottlenecks.


Practicing Truth Through Mental Models


Often, our biggest “truth fear” is what other people will think or how they will react. What if I told you… that was all in your head? And all in their heads?


I’m talking about mental models. Mental models are your thought processes, built out of all your experiences, assumptions, beliefs, patterns, etc. We all have them, and they’re highly influential in how we show up and respond.


Mental models are like a stubborn computer programs. All you want to do is rotate an image or edit a table, and it just won’t do it! Similarly, sometimes you want to speak up, but it’s like your brain is saying, “Cannot perform the function. Error. Error. Error…”


Fortunately, just like software can be reprogrammed, you can, in a way, reprogram your mental models to empower truth instead of shoving it under the rug.


Exploring your mental models can also help you get clarity on your truth, which can be hard to identify when you aren’t in the habit.


Exploring Mental Models


There are 5 key elements of mental models:

  • Facts

  • Thoughts

  • Feelings

  • Beliefs & expectations

  • Values

When you break your inner experience down into these elements, it clarifies what’s really going on for you and why and what you genuinely need out of the situation (feel free to use my guided worksheet to do this).


If we go back to our fear around truth, mental models also help calm fear. The unknown is unnerving. Get up close to your mental models, and they aren’t unknown anymore!


Exploring THEIR Mental Models


The person you share your truth with also has mental models that influence how they show up and respond. Be aware of this so that you keep yourself open to their perspective and don’t take their reactions personally.


In the worksheet linked above, there is also a section to help you explore the other side and understand that everyone’s truth is both subjective and worthy. As long as we are respectful - honoring the human - progress is possible.


Taking Responsibility


The fact is, you can’t control anyone else’s reactions. You can’t control them through sharing your truth or through avoidance. You can only control your choices. Why not choose truth?


Yes, it will feel scary at first. Sit with the scary. Explore your mental models around that fear. What are the bare facts? What are your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs? What else could you believe?


When you commit to speaking your truth, you are committing to taking 100% responsibility for your world. Whether you’re feeling stuck, or unmotivated, or want to create a new post-Covid normal for yourself and those around you, when you speak what’s in your heart, you start to shift the course of your life in meaningful ways.


Follow Melissa on her Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, and visit her website for more information.

 

Melissa Dawn, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Melissa Dawn is a renowned speaker, author, coach, and founder of CEO of Your Life. She is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC), a Professional Certified Coach (PCC), a Certified Team Performance Coach (CTPC) and Conscious Coach, Certified Master Practitioner of Energy Medicine with The Four Winds, and holds a Bachelor of Commerce. She is also the bestselling author of I Attract What I Am: Transform Failure into an Orgasmically Joyful Life and Business and was named one of Hubspot’s Best Coaching Services worldwide for 2019, 2020, and 2021.


Melissa guides others to drop their masks, reconnect with their core selves and put themselves firmly in the CEO seat of their own lives. She believes that what makes us different is how we bring the greatest value to the world and ourselves.

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