How do we speak our truth as business leaders? I ask myself this question frequently. The advocate in my heart wants to express itself, but how will that affect my bottom line or how my colleagues — or my customers — view me? Which is more important: my bottom line, people’s opinions or standing up for my beliefs? When I lie on my deathbed, what will my soul yearn for as I cross the threshold?
During this time in our history, in my belief, it’s crucial to stand up for something bigger than ourselves. The world, our future generations and all life on earth deserve for us to show up in service beyond our comforts and those who we support.
As I’m exploring this inquiry, I have found myself not asking if I should separate my personal truth anymore but rather how to express it. Why don’t we see more of this? For instance, it seemed business leaders barely spoke about BLM until they faced social pressure if they didn’t speak to it after George Floyd was murdered. I found myself the only professional I saw on LinkedIn speaking to Roe V. Wade. Are my fellow business owners scared of losing customers, or do people just not know how to authentically and vulnerably express their values and invite conversation?
As we speak up, it’s crucial to find a middle ground to not continue in defiance of each other, so we can make progress, even if we disagree. We need to find a pillar everyone can lean into to start. And what’s better than that pillar being love while practicing the principle of vulnerability, trusting that the person or customer in front of you knows that’s where you’re coming from in full trust?
Even if their views differ, people can be grateful for your approach, hopefully starting a productive conversation. What beautiful lessons and growth opportunities we all have.
So, the question is how — not if — you should voice your authentic truth.Here are six pointers to guide you to express your truth and find room for understanding:
1. Come From a Place of Kindness
Be kind with your messaging. Getting in front of people who don’t agree with your views could potentially impact your business, but regardless, this is how you should always walk, so be kind. Maybe they will actually find respect for how you stand in your truth.
2. Respect Others’ Sovereignty
We are all individuals — our own beings — shaped by our unique experiences, surroundings and families. We’re each different from one another and we will never be the same as the person next to us. This makes respecting others’ sovereignty crucial. Who are we to decide our way is the right way? It’s actually for other people to determine for themselves, and that makes it OK if someone does not agree with you. Don’t push people, but rather, invite them in and leave it to them to listen.
3. Get Creative
Be creative with your brilliance, especially when sharing with people a viewpoint that they may not agree with. Art has historically been used to open up people to ideology, and this provides us with a way to get a message across, giving the viewer the opportunity to embrace it. The more creative you get, the more there is the possibility for that light to click on in their head but from their own understanding — and not someone telling them to do so.
4. Be Cautious of Definites
If you speak in absolutes, you will lose people. Terms like “invitation,” “my belief” and “if you feel called” can go a long way in giving people options and not forcing them into your views. If they don’t want to be led, leave them and maybe they will find their way back to you.
5. Show Forgiveness
We have to be able to forgive for we are all human and make mistakes. That doesn’t mean there are no repercussions for those mistakes, but showing forgiveness may inspire someone to learn and grow to become better.
This may be the most important pointer and one I feel has the least presence in our current societal climate. Continue to listen and don’t be closed off to other people’s views. If you desire this listening from others, find it in yourself first. The greatest communicators in the world are phenomenal listeners. Don’t be closed off to other views because you could miss a growth opportunity.
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Ultimately, if you follow these six pointers, I believe people will have respect for you, your work and the company you represent even if they don’t agree with you. There will be plenty of pillars presented to find a middle ground for progressive conversations to happen. People appreciate vulnerability and the world could use more of it; this will be recognized and appreciated. And the people who do agree with you could become more devoted to your work.
But more importantly, these six pointers, if used when speaking your truth, whether the context is professional or personal, could lead to a better world for our grandchildren. This, I am hopeful, will bring peace to each of our spirits as we face our own deathbeds, knowing we did what we could to leave this world a better place.