The first three paragraphs from a recent Seth Godin blog titled, “Deep Connection”, got me thinking.
“When someone tells you something you need to hear, instead of something you’re hoping to hear, you’ve found something priceless.
This takes care, generosity and guts to achieve.
When you offer this gift to someone else, it might seem like it’s unappreciated. But you didn’t do it to be appreciated, you did it because you care enough to work for a deep connection, one that makes things better.”
The bold lettering is mine in order to highlight my personal takeaway: If my truth is worth sharing then hoping for thanks is egotistical and means that my gift is not freely given.
On the other hand, if my thoughts are un-welcome, then their reaction plays into a fundamental personal weakness of mine - I’m a people pleaser – and I might lose a friend. Gratitude is much more likely if I tell them what they want to hear. That approach also lines up with my people pleasing nature. So then why bother sharing at all?
Seth’s punchline: “The most productive relationships are advanced by risking giving and receiving truth.”
Over the holidays, I had a chance to speak at length with each of my adult children about the risk of telling someone what they need to hear vs what they want to hear. They know me better than anyone and our relationships are becoming so healthy that we no longer worry about pleasing or displeasing each other. We just exchange our own truths for the others’ consideration.
One of them said to me, “Dad, it’s your ego that seeks affection or credit when you’re helping. Perhaps eventually you should just try to be yourself. That should be good enough.”
It took me back to the last paragraph of Seth’s blog post:
“[It’s] Best to devote that energy [the gift of what one needs to hear] to people and causes who can run with it.”
So, my new year resolution is as follows:
- Before sharing my truth, assess whether or not the person/organization might have the desire to run with it… then take the risk and give them what they need and hope it causes deeper connection.
Have you caused a deeper connection by telling someone what they need to hear? Have you felt more deeply connected to someone because they told you something you needed to hear?