I was impatiently pounding the pavement to get to my appointment when a young girl on the sidewalk started yelling at her friend that ‘she hadn’t been honest with her, that she hadn’t been straight with their group of friends’, in fact, that she had outright ‘lied’ about the circumstances they were discussing. Right before their voices faded out, I heard the young girl exclaim to her friend “I don’t know what you mean by talking straight?!”
So after this slight eavesdropping event, it had me wondering, do I know what talking straight means?
To the young lady on the street, I am here to let you know that I also wasn’t aware of what this term really means (which sounds quite naive now that I am writing this, but entirely necessary), and after much research and book flipping from one young-ish lady to another this is what it means to ‘talk straight’.
According to Stephen M.R Covey author of “The Speed Of Trust”, Talking straight at the core is about “being honest, telling the truth and letting people know where you stand”. If you make your agenda clear and call things as they are minus the spin, you demonstrate personal integrity and ultimately begin to build trust.
Key points of talking straight:
— Be honest (with yourself and others).
— Get to your point as quickly as possible (avoid fluff and spin).
— Let people know where you stand.
It’s often easy to manipulate a situation by leaving out the parts of the story which are awkward, embarrassing, and/or confronting. But this can distort things, add friction, or even create an environment where everything takes longer than it needs to.
Share Your Opinions More
It’s ok to have a different point of view, but (in my evolving opinion on this topic) what isn’t ok is not stress testing your point of view by not sharing it. By not sharing it, all you do is erode your own self-confidence and misalign yourself. I am not saying you must share your opinion in every situation, be aware of the tone and environment and weigh up your options, but ultimately sharing your opinion can help others to see and recalibrate where they stand, it allows them to take in new information that they may not have been exposed to, and possibly update their position.
Try to involve other people to assist with your process, this will increase the likelihood for change.
How you ask?! According to Covey, start by asking for “feedback”, you could try “I’m really trying to improve my ability to talk straight, would you mind giving me feedback to let me know how I’m doing in my relationship with you?” This will not only keep you accountable but also dissolve any “blind spots” we typically have trouble seeing for ourselves.
You can also try asking this question of somebody else: “Is there something you really want to tell me but have been hesitant to?”
By asking this question you get the chance to see what it’s like for someone to talk straight with you. This is also great in developing compassion.
Here’s to that young girl on the sidewalk, by being exposed to that conversation I now have a more versed understanding of what it means to not only talk straight but what it really means to be honest.
HOT TIP: Ask yourself what keeps you from talking straight? It might be a fear of being wrong or a lack of courage. Identify this, and weigh up the cost to yourself, and those you care about. What is more important to you?!