09 May Advancing Truth: Communication Congruency and Why it’s Critical to Your World
At a time when discerning truth from fiction has never been more difficult, it has never been more important for you to be sure that you are saying exactly what you mean to say.
Social media, mainstream news, and the events of the day have made it easier than ever to be loose with your facts, loose with your words, and loose with the things those words effect. It is accepted practice now to “backtrack”, “spin”, and “pivot” in the interest (or self-interest) of the moment – without a second thought about the consequences of what we say and how we say it.
Nothing holds more power – and yes, more responsibility – than our ability to reach out and connect with another human being. One-to-one, or one-to-thousands, what you choose to communicate with your words and your actions has profound effect on your world…and mine. We share this world and you have the ability to shape both my perception of it and my interaction with it by the beliefs you nurture within me. And I have that same power over you. We share responsibility for each other’s world.
Here are three simple ideas that will help us take good care of each other…
Opinion vs. Fact
There is a difference between what is – or what happened – and how you feel about it or what it means to you. Separating those two in your own head and heart is the first step to being a responsible communicator. That can be harder to do than it sounds. Our brains are just that – OUR brains – and they work hard to take care of ourselves. They can warp an event, change a memory, or cloud an objective to be sure we’re protected or rewarded.
Separating yourself from that brain and objectively cataloguing what you know to be true requires mindfulness and a deliberate set of measures. What is it that proves this fact? Have you divorced the opinions of others – even those you trust – from what you or they “know?” Have you seen it, heard it, tasted it yourself?
That’s not to say interpretation or belief should be discounted. They are inevitable and invaluable and they are exactly what make you who you are. But they aren’t facts. They should be used differently when you communicate – fueling your passion and commitment, and driving your desire to motivate others toward shared goals – but treating them as fact is a certain derailleur.
Congruency isn’t as hard as it looks – the key is authenticity. If you act honestly, as yourself, in one situation, you’ll react that way again when it comes around a second or third time. You’ll do it every time… because you know no other way. That kind of congruency is what builds trust – in you and in others.
The “tangled web we weave…” in that old adage gets so much easier to manage if you don’t have to remember exactly what you said last time, or whether what you’re about to say can be backed with supportive action next week. Be who you are every time and you’ll be who you are every time – building the kind of congruency that allows all of us to move beyond communication to trusted connection where things are achieved much more quickly and easily.
The Sin of Omission
It’s simple. Not stating what needs to be said is as harmful as misstating it. Avoiding what should be said in order to avoid the potential confrontation is simply another form of lying – to yourself and others.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t approach that connection carefully – with honest concern for the other’s point-of-view, or with an open purpose for breaching the subject. Many of the confrontations that come from opposing views aren’t driven with that intent but instead happen because of the way it’s delivered… both in style and content. Say what you need to say… sensitively, productively, positively, but… say it.
Advancing truth, through your communication, will bring you power. And, being honest with others begins with being honest with yourself. Separate opinion from fact, don’t be complicit in your silence and build trust through congruency… and you’ll do more for your world – and mine – than you ever thought possible.