Of the many lessons a mentor has taught me, one of the ones that sticks out the most is when he said, “say what you mean and mean what you say.” Be clear, be honest, and back it up with action.
I learned to apply this as a tool that made me tough. I was a shy, sensitive kid. I didn’t always speak up for myself, but when I did stand up for myself, I stood up loud. Sometimes this got me in trouble and it didn’t always win me friends, but it’s how I learned to protect my heart.
In a work setting, on the other hand, I learned to be agreeable so as not to piss off the people who were writing my paychecks. In many ways I found this unsatisfying, because I never felt like I was really myself. When the bulk of your day is work, that’s a whole lot of time feeling disconnected.
Over time I learned how to speak from my heart regardless of the situation. This doesn’t mean that I run around saying everything I think, but it does mean that I know where I stand. While freedom of speech is a constitutional right, the ability to edit what you say, before you say it, is a personal responsibility. This is a relationship skill that will serve you whether you are talking to your parents, children, lover, boss, employees, clients, neighbors or the rest of the world.
We have a responsibility to realize the power of our words and be mindful of their trajectory. We have a responsibility to pay attention to how our words may land on the hearts of others. We have a responsibility to be aware of the potential consequences of our words and use them as wisely as possible.
Words can cast a spell on others. We can woo them, or we can harm them. We can call on others to make a difference or start a fight. We can soothe a soul or stab a heart with our words. In fact, wounds from sticks and stones will heal, but wounds from words fester, haunt, and can last long into the future.
How someone receives our words, or translates them into a different meaning is not in our control. However, consciously aligning our words, thoughts, and actions with our values and our desired outcome is in our control. When you’re being totally honest, you’ll be interpreted 100 percent correctly, because the other person will notice your sincerity and believe you. He or she may even see how much effort you’re putting into the conversation, thus feeling empathy and listening even more intently.
Speaking from your heart doesn’t always require you to say something. No one wants to hear from a complainer or a preacher 24/7. Honor yourself by not engaging in unnecessary conflict. Sometimes you can stand tall by being quiet and walking away.
Practice speaking from your heart with everyone you meet, all the time. When you run into a friend on the street, speak from your heart. When you do so, people feel you. And the result is a deeper connection with anyone from the get-go- whether it’s someone you’ll interact with for only a few minutes or someone you’ll live with for the rest of your life.
Speaking from the heart is the only way you’re going to be successful in every aspect of your life. It is a key to becoming irresistible in every aspect of your life.