Veritas Liberabit Vos

It sounds so simple.  It feels like something we already do. Who wants to admit they don’t always say what they really mean? Part of the identity we weave for ourselves frequently includes something like, “Straight talker” or “Honest” or “I just say what’s on my mind.”.  And yet…

Carrie and Leann sit across the table from each other, each with a laptop open, each with a binder of papers between them. Planning out the project schedule for the next quarter has not been easy or smooth for the two department managers.  Carrie is increasingly frustrated at Leann’s adamant, “No, that won’t work.” responses that seem to be her go-to for every one of Carrie’s new ideas.  Another sore spot for Carrie is Leann’s tendency to delegate most of the actual work that the project will require to members of Carrie’s – not Leann’s own – team in the months to come.  Carrie is a new department manager in the company, and this is her first big planning project.  Leann has been with the company for years, leading her department with reasonable success for most of them.

What Carrie says throughout the meeting:

“OK, I guess we can keep doing that. Maybe next time around we can try it the other way, just to see what happens.”

“I really appreciate all the experience you bring to this. Hopefully, everything will work out this time like it has before.”

“Have you seen my work on the Robinson account?  Yeah, you really should…we did some innovative things there that would probably apply to this project.”

What Carrie thinks/feels and doesn’t say:
“I don’t feel valued or respected as a peer right now. I’m starting to think you don’t want to work with me.”

“I’m afraid to make waves with a senior manager on my very first project as a leader.”

“It feels like my team will be doing most of the “grunt work” on this project, while your team will be there at the end to share the accolades.”

“Are you insecure about your job, or about yourself?  Because it’s starting to feel like that. It’s none of my business, but I just don’t want your issues to affect me and my career.”

So often, it’s difficult and even downright reckless to come right out and say what we are feeling in the heat of the moment.  Relationships can be damaged irrevocably. Trajectories of careers can be changed, never to recover. Family dynamics can be affected for years – even decades. Yes, most of us have had deep, “heart to heart” conversations over the years in which we have talked about real issues with someone we care about, and the results have been positive.  But how often, if we have to be honest with ourselves, do we skirt around an issue with a colleague, boss or even partner – so as not to hit a nerve or go into dangerous territory?  What’s holding us back?  Why are our options so often either to avoid- or to bulldoze in like a bull in a china closet, and hope the wreckage won’t be too catastrophic? Usually, the answer is: We lack the specific, explicit communication tools, shared by all members of the interaction, and we are afraid that we won’t come out the other side of the difficult conversation feeling intact, respected, truly heard and overall better for having had the conversation.

We come into adulthood with communication tools, including conflict resolution strategies, that our parents or important adults in our lives (coaches, teachers, older family members, mentors, etc) taught us.  We were either taught explicitly or implicitly (learn by watching their examples).  If we were all raised with slightly, or even drastically, different communication tools – when we interact with each other later as adults, often under stressful conditions – it’s no wonder we aren’t hitting the bullseye with each other!  If you have ever attempted to have a conversation with someone who does not speak much English (or whatever your primary language might be), you have probably experienced firsthand how frustrating it can be (for both of you!) to be able to communicate a little bit…at a basic level…but not to be able to clearly and effectively say exactly what you mean to each other.  You simply did not have the exact same level of language (tools) combined with adequate training (lessons and/or exposure and daily practice) to be able to effectively communicate.  We can switch the roles in this scenario, and imagine that you are attempting to speak to someone in their native language, and you have taken a basic course for a few months.  Each of you has very different skill sets when it comes to communicating in that language so it would be no wonder that you are only able to get your points across to each other at a rudimentary level. The nuances and complexities of what you want to say will be lost because your tools are not adequate to express them.  It’s the same with our overall communication skills with each other – we are using different toolsets and paradigms, so it’s no wonder we frequently miss the mark with each other!

In our company, and in our families, learning and training with the shared tools from Miick Systems, including “Moose in the Room” as discussed on episode 3 of the Turquoise podcast, has been game-changing.  When we are all speaking the same language and playing by the same agreed-upon rules, our communication – and as a result, our relationships with each other – almost can’t help but get better and be more effective.  In Latin there is a saying, “Veritas liberabit vos.”  This translates to “The truth shall set you free.”  When we have the courage, training and shared skillsets to really speak our truth in a respectful, open way with those most important to us – we move farther away from inauthentic posturing and fear, and closer toward love – toward the freedom of simply BE-ing in our Purpose.

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