It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. We’ve heard this all our lives, yet we still attempt to get what we want by making demands, using guilt trips, and expressing ourselves in a manipulative manner as if that is going to consistently get us what we want in life. Maybe it works sometimes – those times when people would rather give you what you want in order to shut you up. But it’s not an effective means of communicating or getting your needs met.
Being able to communicate our needs clearly and concisely is a skill. Doing it in a way that inspires others to actually feel good about fulfilling those needs is an advanced skill indeed. But it is based on a very simple premise of “you catch more bees with honey.” You shouldn’t be afraid to sweeten it up a little bit if you expect people to want to join with you to help you reach your goals. Not in a conniving way, but in a way that your genuineness in your appeal for their help shines through.
A wise woman named Mary Poppins once said, “just a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down.” This is relevant when trying to get others to help or understand you, but also when it comes to delivering the truth. Even when needing to deliver hard-to-swallow truth to someone, it can be done from a place of love. Some people are brash and tell others about themselves in insensitive ways, finishing with statements like “well I was just telling the truth!” Most of the time the problem isn’t what they said, but the way it was said.
Life is full of moments when we will either have to administer or swallow some tough medicine ourselves. We have more of a choice in how we experience this than we may know. When dishing out the truth, we can do it with love which is a natural sweetener. And when having to swallow the truth, we can focus on how that information helps us to improve ourselves, which makes things sweeter for us and those we care about in the end.
Interpersonal effectiveness is something that can be developed and improved over time, and there’s plenty of literature aimed at helping you accomplish it. But after you sift through all the material, you’ll realize that it pretty much boils down to a fundamental principle that we learned early in life – it’s not about the WHAT, it’s about the WAY.