What are you not saying that needs to be said? Hat tip to Jerry Colonna, author of Reboot, a book that I HIGHLY recommend.

When I first came across this question, it stopped me in my tracks. Whoa. What am I not saying that needs to be said? To whom am I not saying things? What keeps me from saying what needs to be said?

I looked at the people and world around me and I had some conversations that I’d been avoiding. It was hugely valuable. I come back to the question often for myself and offer it frequently to clients.

It’s tempting to tell yourself the story that it’s OK to avoid having the difficult feedback conversation with an employee…that it’ll work itself out…that you don’t want to be mean…but there’s a cost. It costs energy, time and often money. Nine times out of 10, having the difficult conversation is the right way to go. Your work, as the feedback-giver, is to make sure you’re having that conversation from a grounded place, not from a place of frustration.

As time passed, I’ve come to see another way this question shows up: What are you holding in that needs to be shared? Just as there may be conversations that you need others to hear, you may have your own stories that need to be shared.

What stories are you carrying alone because you don’t want to burden anyone?
Where do you need support but aren’t comfortable asking for it?
How are you keeping folks at a distance by not sharing your experiences?

What are you not sharing that needs to be shared?
Who are your inner circle people who you can be safely vulnerable with?
Where do you know that you’ll be loved no matter what you share?
What might feel different/better/more connected if you share with your inner circle?

We all hold things back and boundaries are critically important. Vulnerability, sharing, trusting ourselves and being in community with our inner circle people are all critically important as well…even though it might be uncomfortable at first. Susan David says that discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life. I couldn’t agree more.