Take One Small Step

There's no getting around it. Exercising interpersonal courage is hard. Most of us grow up learning to be nice or tactful but not honest. It is as if honesty and niceness are two opposite ends of a continuum.

It is understandable that honesty would have a bad rap. When most people talk about being honest, they mean unleashing defenses on another person without any awareness or concern for the other person's well-being. Also without any understanding of their own reactivity and underlying fear or hurt.

Interpersonal courage could mean being like a bull in a china shop. However, I will use it to mean that the person who is expressing himself or herself is doing so from a place of self-awareness and is doing it in a way that includes awareness of the other. Interpersonal courage is needed when the person expressing himself or herself is concerned about the reaction of the other and is willing to take the risk and say it anyway, knowing that the other's reactions might be less than positive or affirming.

This practice is based on all the blogs and practices from the last several months which focused on mindful conversations and adds interpersonal courage. For the first practice of the month, we'll focus on awareness and possibilities, so it will be more of an exploration than taking action.

Directions:

  1. When you are in dialogue with another person or in a group meeting, notice anything you think but don't say.
  2. When you notice something, ask yourself, “Am I not saying this because I'm afraid I'll be ignored (or some version of that), humiliated (or some version of that), or rejected?”
  3. Think about what your own fears about yourself are that may be triggered.
  4. Imagine, without doing it, what you might say if you were to acknowledge your own fears first before you said anything about the other person.
  5. Imagine, without doing it, what you might say about your concerns abut the relationship with the other person(s) if you were to express yourself authentically.
  6. Go through the above 5 steps several times without expressing anything out loud.
  7. Look over the AEIOU and ways to express yourself authentically and non-defensively and think through what you might say, again, without saying anything out loud.

Next week, the practice will include taking interpersonal courage out of your head and into the interpersonal arena.

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