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Speaking from the Heart

In conversations we have in the workplace, community, school and home – from formal meetings to one-on-one discussions – we often protect ourselves. We don’t say directly what we mean or don’t share our true thoughts – out of fear, mistrust, and sometimes, simply habit.

Unless we speak from the heart, we open ourselves up to misinterpretation, frustration, and distancing from the people we are meeting with. We often need to have the same conversation over and over again.

No one gets the results they want or a sense of common understanding when some or all participants in a conversation are holding back or dancing around what they really want to say.

Speaking from the heart requires willingness and openness. It necessitates making yourself vulnerable before others. It also requires trusting the safety of the conversational space and trusting that what is said will be treated respectfully, without judgment and without retribution.

Being “heartful” is courageous. Courage comes from the Latin word ‘cor,' which means “heart."

One who speaks from the heart speaks with courage to help develop common understanding rather than just to end the silence, or to be heard. Courage requires vulnerability in recognizing that your thinking can be very different from another’s, but that everyone’s thinking needs to be heard.

Of course, taking this risk means that everyone needs to follow the first Learning Conversation Guideline, to “Listen Deeply for Understanding," rather than thinking about what to say next, or jumping in to criticize or argue.

Similarly, learning how to ‘Acknowledge and Respond Respectfully’ (ARR) is also key, so people feel as though they are in a safe space to speak from the heart.

Examples of ARR responses include:

  • “I’m wondering what is underneath your thinking.”

  • “Interesting way of seeing that.”

  • “From what you’re saying, I’m hearing this …”

  • “What I’m hearing you say is this … Am I right?”

  • “Can you explain your thinking behind that statement?”

  • “What obstacles do you think will surface as a result of …?”

  • “Does anyone see that in the same way? Does anyone see that differently?”

Another way to demonstrate speaking from the heart is ‘Announce and Ask’ (AA). This simply means announcing what you are about to do, such as hold an honest conversation about such-and-such a topic and ask for their help.

People are often much more willing to open-up themselves when you show vulnerability in asking for help.

By getting into the heart of the conversation more quickly and you’ll help set the stage for genuine conversations that get genuine results.

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