Two ways to win at the ‘Nice & Honest’ game.

I have been thinking a lot lately about all the rules of etiquette that we are taught growing up. The two most deeply ingrained rules that I hear repeated back most often from the women that I work with are these: “Be nice” and “Always be honest”.

The problem is that it is almost impossible to live up to both of these simultaneously. Often they are at odds with each other, and when we try to live up to both equally it creates an internal conflict that can be torturous for many.

Just think of that old saying: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”. This is the perfect example of how we were encouraged NOT to be honest and in fact to keep our mouths shut if the truth contradicts our virtuous people-pleasing ways.

You know the scenario, you are asked to do something that you don’t want to do. Maybe you are stretched to your limit, it goes against your values, or it violates an important policy or boundary you so carefully put in place. The nice thing to do is say “yes”, be accommodating, and make that person happy. However, the honest thing to do is tell them how you truly feel and say “no”, but that would be mean and risk conflict. It’s a lose-lose situation, either you make that person unhappy or you give up on yourself, again.

So why do we hold on for dear life to these “life lessons” that set us up for failure every single time?

You’d think that history would repeat itself generation after generation enough that we would have figured out by now that this does not work. Well, the thing is, we want to be good people and we want to make our parents, teachers, and elders happy, we’re taught to after all, and so the cycle continues.

Maybe it’s time for a little perspective shift.

Consider perhaps that being nice and honest wasn’t the goal in the first place. What if all this time the words just got a little twisted, like a game of broken telephone?

I propose nice and honest be replaced from this day forward with these two gems…

Thoughtful

True to you

My favorite trick for handling conversations where you need to flex your staying ‘True to You’ muscle and say “No” is by thoughtfully crafting a counter-offer that provides a possible solution. This is a little twist on a handy tool that originates from the Improv world and it’s called Yes, And. In this clever brainstorming strategy, you simply acknowledge the idea presented, no matter what it is, and follow it up with “and” then insert another idea.

Let’s look at an example of Yes, And in action using our new Thoughtful and True to You approach: Here comes that someone again asking for something that you don’t want to do, and you can now respond: “I appreciate your idea and the thought you put into this. How about…?”

Imagine what is possible for you here, and the potential available for more meaningful interactions. You have acknowledged them, you have thoughtfully considered their suggestion (that’s nice), you have honestly shared your thoughts without giving up on yourself, and provided a counter-offer that provides room for more collaborative discussion.

Perhaps it’s not as clear cut as we were taught: be nice, be honest. A little more thought and consideration on the exchanges that we have opens up a whole new world of possibilities for you and your relationships, and everyone wins!


I help women entrepreneurs face their money fears, build self-confidence, and see new possibilities in themselves so they can rediscover the love for their business and joy in their lives knowing they are financially independent and secure. Click the link below to learn more and book your FREE Coaching Consultation Call… HollyWallisCoaching.com

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