June 8, 2017

TrishBits #33: Say What You Think You Can’t Say

I coached a teacher who was furious with her student’s father.  “He’s an emotional bully,” the teacher said to me.  “He pushes me around just like he pushes his daughter around, and I’m so angry that I can’t think straight.”

Good insight.  This teacher – let’s call her, Sue – is probably feeling the same anger that the child feels, but perhaps can’t express.

Why was Sue so angry?  Because the dad had stormed into a year-end parent – teacher conference, saying, “My daughter is not making good grades and it’s your fault for not teaching her what she needs to know.”

Outrageous.  Rude.  Out of line.  Wrong.

I asked Sue,“Now that you’ve had some time to retreat from the crazy drama, what do you wish you could say to this father?”

“I wish I could say, ‘You’re crazy!’”

We laughed.  That would be fun to say, but not terribly professional.  Nor, necessarily, accurate.

But here’s the thing – what you yearn to say?  That gem of outspoken, frank, heartfelt push-back?  There’s a germ of truth in there that needs to be mined and SAID. 

So, Sue needed to find the germ of truth.  And she needed to say it.  Here’s what she came up with: “Instead of telling him that he’s crazy,” Sue told me, “I really need to tell him that his expectations are unrealistic.  That I’m an experienced teacher, that I have a perspective that’s valuable, and that his demands are simply not realistic.”

Sounds true.  Solid.  Right.

And, I’m betting that that’s exactly what this dad needs to hear.  And, I’m betting that that’s exactly what this daughter will say to him when she finds her voice.

Sue reported back – the follow-up conference went well enough.  No great breakthroughs for the dad, but a huge breakthrough for Sue.

The next time you think you can’t say what you mean, follow these steps:
  1. Calm yourself & let go of that judgy part of you that wants to lash out.
  2. Find the simple truth that needs to be said.
  3. Say it with quiet confidence.
  4. Let go of convincing anyone of anything, but stand in your truth.
  5. Feel the freedom of knowing what you know, and saying it.
  6. Let others in your life see what happens when you tell the truth.
I imagine this is how we change the world! 

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