During the summer last year, I was doing my annual big hike with a friend. We use these hikes to see more of the country, and inevitably the conversations end up covering every topic under the sun. That day, we’d been talking about communication. In the evening, tucked away in a little cabin near Glencoe, something was rolling around in my head that I couldn’t quite pin down. For the longest time, I’d told myself that I was open to feedback and hard conversations because I’d repeatedly said to people that I’m always happy to hear it. And I felt that if someone wasn’t honest with me, that was on them. But saying that isn’t difficult at all. And maybe that means it’s not the valuable part. The valuable part is the flip side of that. It’s saying the things that are difficult to say, because that’s what actually builds up the trust. It builds up the trust that I will say the difficult things when appropriate, and the expectation is that they do the same. Sometimes it’s useful to make it clear that saying this particular thing is difficult.
A funny thing happened once I start embracing this. I found I was less prone to building up resentment towards others. I stopped expecting people to understand what I’m thinking, without saying it. And that’s made all the difference.