Compassionate Candor

Most of us are less than candid. We don’t want to hurt feelings or upset people, so we keep quiet and let troubling things slide by.

Of course, we’re taught that from childhood. Parents and teachers said “good boys and girls stay in their places with zipped lips.” “Tattle tale” is the worst possible childhood crime.

This mindset is reinforced in the workplace, where people who rock the boat often receive the boot. Most bosses are more concerned about “keeping peace” than “making things right.” Of course, as Teddy Roosevelt said, “There is no unrighteous peace.” Thus, the whole environment becomes a haze of unspoken tension and discontent. The very peace we’re trying to attain by silence eludes us.

Usually, everybody knows the issue, but nobody wants to talk about “the elephant in the room.” We’re like the villagers in Hans Christian Anderson’s tale, who gawked at their emperor strutting his stuff in the buff, believing he was fully clothed. It took a guileless child to point out the obvious truth that no one was willing to speak.

The problem is, our situation won’t change unless it’s resolved, and that won’t happen until someone has the gumption to bring it up. The truth shall set you free.

Unresolved issues, like dead skunks, won’t smell better by hiding them under the bed! If you know of a situation that needs changing, and are wondering why somebody doesn’t do something about it -- guess what – YOU are somebody! Maybe it’s up to you to speak the truth.

Of course, the truth must be spoken in love.

Candor without compassion makes one a jerk. Nobody wants to hear from a jerk, even if that jerk is right.

In every communication there are two communications:

1. What I need to say.
2. Whether or not I care about you.

The second communication should be the first and last! In other words, a difficult conversation should go something like this:

1. I care about you.
2. Here’s what I need to say.
3. Again, I really care about you.

Compassionate candor is the primary communication key that unlocks the door to resolution.


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