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Combine Open, Honest Communication with Responsibility by Klemmer Leadership Training

How do you communicate when you are angry with someone else? As discussed in If How-To's Were Enough We Would All Be Skinny, Rich, & Happy (page 52), there are responsible and irresponsible ways to handle resentment and let another person know that we are upset.

When we are not used to expressing our anger or have allowed it to bottle up over a period of time, our communication typically takes on negative tones. Honest communication that is non-responsible may be manifested in several ways.

You can communicate honestly, but non-responsibly by:

1) blaming the other person for how you feel. 2) embarrassing someone in order to get revenge. 3) leaving the receiving person or team with negativity they can do nothing about.

To illustrate this, imagine a garden hose that has lain dormant all winter. Then, on the first day of summer when you're thirsty and you drink from it — UGH! Have you ever done that? It's foul tasting!

Sometimes we are like the dormant hose. If you — or a person you are supporting in open, honest, responsible communication — have not communicated negative feelings in awhile, these feelings may come out like foul water from a dormant hose.

When learning to communicate open and honestly, try rehearsing your communication in front of someone you trust. Tell them what you are doing and request that they listen for blame versus responsible.

We once received an e-mail from a graduate who had an alcoholic, homeless father. During a Personal Mastery, he determined that he was going to have an open communication with his dad. Fortunately he was wise; he chose to run his thoughts by his mother first. She recognized that her son was coming from a perspective of blame.

As a result of his mother's input, the man changed his approach. He told his father how angry he had been, and how sad he was that their relationship wasn't what it could be. All this was communicated without anger. According to the man's e-mail, he and his father walked down the beach and had one of the greatest conversations of their lives.

Responsible communication always begins with I. The feelings you express are yours, so own them. How does this sound? One example is, "I felt this way when you did this." Actually come out and say that you are not blaming the other person. Express that the reason you are communicating openly and honestly is because you desire a better relationship.

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