One of the significant marks of a good leader and healthy individual is the ability to tell others what they really think in an honest but respectful way. Too often, in the desire to make others feel good we are not completely honest with our views which causes confusion at best and a sense that we were dishonest or manipulative at worst.

Not being fully honest with our views is a form of cowardice driven by our desire to be liked and not to offend. However, the end result of a lack of clarity especially by leaders is the perception by their staff that they were not honest with them - true - and attributed often to bad motives - often not true. Either way it is a route to misunderstanding and lack of clarity.

Most of us do not want to offend others - a good thing. The route to that goal is not to withhold our opinions or convictions but to state them respectfully, allowing others to hold a different view without judgement or losing relationship. What kind of world would we have if everyone agreed on everything anyway? The best solutions are found in the conflict of ideas, not in everybody agreeing with one another.

This skill is called "self differentiation." The ability to differentiate our views from others without being obnoxious. Both of those skills are necessary for healthy relationships.

It is a skill because it is not natural for everyone to learn the art of self differentiation graciously. However, unless we do we cannot be who we really are - a characteristic of personal health. Doing so with graciousness toward others is a necessary skill of keeping relationships healthy while being able to disagree. Both personal health and relational health are at stake with this skill.

  • Aug 07, 2012
  • Category: News
  • Comments: 0
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