As odd as it may be to hear this from a 35-year old man, this year is the first year I’ve genuinely learned to express myself clearly without getting emotional. Usually in the past I’ve chosen to simply say nothing or placate somebody. 2018 is the first I’ve realized that it’s fine to disagree with someone and it’s fine to say so. It’s OK to not like what’s been said or what’s going on, and to express that too. The truth is that not only is this acceptable, it is actually the best course of action for all participants.
Kim Scott tells a story in Radical Candor about walking a beloved but undisciplined dog. The amount of love for this dog is preventing her from cracking down on its bad behavior. A passerby rolls up on the two, and seeing and understanding the situation, gives some direct orders to the dog. The dog complies, and as the person then turns away they leave with a parting statement: “See? It’s not mean, it’s clear!” Effective communication is achieved when both parties are 100% understood by each other and cool heads have prevailed.
Now when I go into a conversation, I try to go into it with a goal. I ask myself, “what do I need to say?”. Make a plan, visualize it. Similar to accomplishing anything difficult if you tell your brain what you want to do, when you’re in the moment you’ll be more likely to do it. Try this out sometime. Let a few seconds of silence sink in, while you answer yourself in your own head, “what do I really need to say here?” Then let it flow.