How we communicate reveals what we think and feel about the world around us as well as how we feel about ourselves. Most of us aren’t taught that. We are taught some level of communication based on getting what we want or making people see us in a certain way. We aren’t taught to value or trust our intuition so we spend years ignoring what we hear/know to be true of our own lives. We essentially tell ourselves that our inner thoughts aren’t worth sharing, that we aren’t worth speaking what is truly on our minds. We tell ourselves a story about the world and how we will be perceived in it. For example, we use strong or intimidating language to be viewed as strong but that changes how others see us, and the moment we change that communication style, people become confused. We need to remember our words, our voices are worthy of being heard, as is our story. We need to share that authentically with the world.
I haven’t been able to communicate well with my teams as a leader. I’ve made every effort to connect with them on a human level and made allowances for all of the personal stuff, and that has been successful. I’m relatively well liked. But when it comes to offering guidance, I haven’t led them as they need. There is a middle ground of mutual respect where neither side is taken advantage of. Even as a fully grown competent adult, we struggle to set boundaries and believe in our authority with setting and holding people accountable. In my experience, I feel discomfort telling older women what they need to do so I allow them to argue their way out of what I know is wrong. I shouldn’t have to tell them what to do—my guidance should be enough. I don’t need permission to hold them accountable. Then I noticed my behavior and lack of respect for my own authority, not believing in what I’m expecting. If something goes wrong, I try to soften the blow instead of simply stating what was done, how that didn’t align with our expectations and here is the consequence. I put the responsibility for the decision on those higher up than me instead of telling them it’s from me. I’ve been undermining myself.
How often do we do that? Whether it’s not doing what we say we want to do (like working out 3 times a week) or not saying the words on our minds. How often do we not align our action with our thoughts? More often the story is about believing in ourselves than it is about how others perceive us. If we carry ourselves with that belief, others will automatically believe in us. In my example, the story I need to tell myself is that I am in this role because I am competent and capable and I have a job to do. I can still do that job with compassion and humanity and understanding, but I do not need to bend to each person’s expectations—I am responsible for guiding them and keeping them on the track. And Yes, there comes a point when we need to move forward and if you don’t want to be on this train, then you can make the choice to leave. Our conviction and belief in ourselves determines how we interact with people and how they interpret us, and yes, it may influence their decisions in interacting with us. Ultimately the other person is always responsible for their actions, we aren’t. So stand firm.
We are worth expressing the innate being we are at our cores. We shouldn’t have to tailor our personality to yield results. We should maintain our integrity in the story we tell ourselves. That doesn’t mean we are always perfect, not by a long shot—but we aren’t meant to be perfect. We are meant to be authentic. Bottom line, everyone’s authenticity needs to be honored and recognized. That starts with ourselves. The more you value your authenticity and practice genuine communication, the more others will listen and value that as well. Energy flows where intention goes and that is true for people as well. We are gifted with the ability to determine when someone is genuine—always believe that. Trust your instinct because the more you trust yourself, the more confident your story becomes. That confidence drives a whole lot more than how you feel about yourself. Take that gift and use it. Change the story you tell about yourself and see how the world changes with it.