Speaking Authentically is a Connecting Skill. “When I authentically talk, hearts unlock.”
How can I speak my truth in this moment, being open, kind, vulnerable and centered?
Speaking authentically means that we say what we are thinking and feeling even though we feel vulnerable (emotionally, socially, and/or economically). Though it may be difficult, we speak with kindness and strength.
Why Speaking Authentically — The Science
- Honest conversations are transformative, improving effectiveness and performance while simultaneously transforming trust and commitment.
- Authenticity, autonomy, competence, and relatedness have all been significantly related to self-esteem.
- Authenticity enhances well‐being by satisfying needs for relatedness and competence.
- Authenticity and well-being at work are related to the relationship between meaning and work.
- Perceptions of self-efficacy and psychological safety influence active and honest speaking-up.
- Beer M. Why honest conversations are transformative. Research in Organizational Change and Development 2020. Emerald Publishing Limited.
- Heppner WL, Kernis MH, Nezlek JB, Foster J, Lakey CE, Goldman BM. Within-person relationships among daily self-esteem, need satisfaction, and authenticity. Psychological Science. 2008;19(11):1140-1145.
- Thomaes S, Sedikides C, van den Bos N, Hutteman R, Reijntjes A. Happy to be “me?” authenticity, psychological need satisfaction, and subjective well‐being in adolescence. Child Development. 2017;88(4):1045-11056.
- Ménard, Julie, and Brunet, Luc. “Authenticity and Well‐being in the Workplace: A Mediation Model.” Journal of Managerial Psychology 2011;26.4: 331-46.
- Roussin CJ, Larraz E, Jamieson K, Maestre JM. Psychological safety, self-efficacy, and speaking up in interprofessional health care simulation. Clinical Simulation in Nursing. 2018;17:38-46.
- Vazeou-Nieuwenhuis A, Schumann K. Self-compassionate and apologetic? How and why having compassion toward the self relates to a willingness to apologize. Personality and Individual Differences. 2018;124:71-76.
How to Practice-Model-Coach
- Start centered. Make sure when you are speaking authentically you are doing so from a centered place. Use your Centering Skills if needed.
- Be prompt. When things come up that create conflict, do not wait to address it.
- What information are you withholding from others that might be helpful for them to have?
- What would be helpful to say so that others know what is important to you (letting someone know that your feelings were hurt or they crossed a boundary).
- Think about why are you afraid to speak. Is it the other person’s reaction? Worry about saying it wrong? When we understand what we are afraid of, it helps to overcome the barrier.
- Share the “mining for conflict.” When something is not working for you, can you tell the person what is not working for you and why? You can share with the other person that something feels “off” and ask if they feel it, too. Even if they don’t feel it, you can share what you are experiencing and ask if they can work on it together with you. Often, when you directly ask about potential sources of conflict, it can reduce the negative reactions between you and the other person because you are asking to solve it together.
- Start with yourself: To forgive yourself, start by acknowledging the mistake you made and the pain you caused yourself and others. Think about what was in your control and what was not. Then let go of your offense and work on moving forward.
- Start small: In a kind voice, start speaking when small things aren’t working for you.
- Notice what stops you: When you want to speak up but don’t, notice what your body is telling you about why. Are you afraid of being embarrassed? Exposed socially or emotionally? Fired? Sometimes you have to think through potential power dynamics before you can create a path for yourself to speak up. When you know why you are not speaking up, you might be in a stronger position next time.
- Set boundaries: In some relationships, you may need to speak authentically about boundaries. You may not be able to create a deeper connection, but you can set the boundaries that stop you from becoming more hurt.
- When things come up that create conflict, do not wait to address it.
- Practice complete apologies: When you make a mistake, share what you could have done better. When you owe someone an apology, communicate it clearly. When you have hurt someone close to you, even for small offenses, practice by ensuring your apologies have all three components:
- Express remorse (I’m sorry)
- Admit your mistake and the impact (I was late and you had to wait)
- Offer reparations (Is there anything I can do to make up for it?)
- Make your asks clear: If you can let others know exactly what you need, they will be better able to help you. (Can I have your help in making dinner at 5 pm today?)
- Encourage your loved ones to openly share with you their concerns, fears, and conflicts. It is important to remain open and use Heartfelt Listening to make sure they feel safe and comfortable to do so.
Resources for Speaking Authentically
- The Five Languages of Apology: How to Experience Healing in All Your Relationships by Gary Chapman and Jennifer M. Thomas
- How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Fabe
- Finding Clarity: How Compassionate Accountability Builds Vibrant Relationships, Thriving Workplaces, and Meaningful Lives
Tweens & Teens
- This Is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness by Joyce Sidman
- Teen Talk in a Jar by Free Spirit Publishing
- The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson (Age 4-8 )
- Accident!, by Andrea Tsurumi (Age 4-7)
- Julián Is a Mermaid by Jessica Love (Age 2-5)