One way of doing the harder thing is to share a little of your “truth” in every interaction even if it is something you don’t usually do. By your “truth” I don’t mean what you are thinking that is likely to keep the conversation or interaction going smoothly. In many situations we often tend to hold back some important emotional reaction to what another person is doing or saying to keep things flowing smoothly. For example, a person expresses a belief that you disagree with strongly but you hold back rather than disrupt what you perceive to be a developing relationship. In fact, the developing relationship stops the moment you choose to let the other person think that you agree when in fact you don’t.
This doesn’t have to be confrontational or argumentative. It should be nothing more than sharing your perspective on the issues without making the assumption (often communicated tacitly) that you are right and that the other person is wrong on the issue. That is the hardest thing to do because it means that you have begun to develop a precarious view of your own certainty which requires greater faith and confidence than many of us enjoy. Acting as a bystander to your own self can be the beginning of enlarging your mental models and belief systems. A large part of the ideas we hold with fervor are simply beliefs that are designed to protect us from change.
So long as you own what you are sharing as nothing more than your ideas—not reality per se—others are more likely to hear and consider what you are saying. You don’t place the often unspoken demand that the other person think like you, and if they don’t, they are somehow wrong or uninformed. When you communicate in an open and agreeable manner communication is greatly enhanced and a greater connection with the other is often created. Peter Senge refers to this type of communication as “dialogue” or communicating at the level of meaning. It has the capacity to create high performance teams and transform superficial relationships into meaningful ones.