How to say what you really mean

Are you holding back from being 100% truthful? Women in the workplace often censor themselves. How often have you wanted to say something, but stopped yourself with, “I can’t say that!” Or you did say something, but then got lost in the other person’s points of view and weren’t able to continue with what you really meant? How does this happen?

I think of this in terms of the jackets that we wear in different situations. When you leave home to go to work, you take off your “mom” or “partner” jacket and put on your “professional” one. There are also jackets that relate to different ways of being; perhaps in some situations you wear a “powerhouse” jacket and in others a “pathetic” one. You might even have different jackets you wear within your business—one when you’re speaking to clients, and another for employees.

Each jacket has a multitude of judgments and conclusions that accompany it. What have you decided you can or cannot say when you’re at work? What are you supposed to be or not supposed to be? If you can’t use both your feminine energies and your aggressive ones; if you can’t be the true potency of you and the utter kindness and caring, then you are limiting what you can say and do.

How much are these conclusions, judgments, and limitations holding the creation of your business back from everything it could be?

These jackets aren’t a problem in and of themselves, they are simply roles and energies that are available to you. It’s when you become one of them (instead of just wearing it), that it limits what you have available; you can’t be 100% truthful because you’ve cut off other parts of you. What would be possible if you could have all of you available in your business?

Here are three tips for how to have all of your jackets available:

Be vulnerable

Vulnerability is not a topic often talked about in the workplace. It doesn’t mean you have to share all of your secrets with your employees. The jackets we wear are the walls and barriers we hide behind, so being vulnerable means to take off the jacket and just be you.

To perceive your barriers and walls, try this:

  1. Think about a time when you were in an argument or felt defensive at work. Notice what that is like.
  2. Now think about a time when you and your team were in creation mode, perhaps working well together on a project. Notice what is going on now.

If you’re like most people, in the first instance your barriers were probably quite high, and in the second they were low or even non-existent.

When you lower your barriers, you have nothing to hide and can say what you really mean – not from unkindness or judgment, but from a space of vulnerability about what’s true for you. You’re also willing to receive anything from others. Try communicating from vulnerability and see how it changes your interactions.


When you’re vulnerable, you have a greater capacity to choose in each moment which jacket is appropriate. In other words, you choose who to be.

How do you make that choice? Based on what will create the most for everyone—you, the person you’re speaking with, and your business as a whole.

Here are a few questions you can ask that will help you make this choice:

  • What does this person/situation need me to be?
  • What can this person receive/hear?
  • What can I say or do to change this situation?

The idea is not to get a cognitive answer to the question, but to perceive who you can be and what you can do to create more in the situation. How exhausting is it to always try to figure out ahead of time what you should do or say? When you ask questions and choose in each moment based on your awareness, you can start to create instead of anticipate.

Ask, “What else is possible here that I haven’t considered?”

So often in business people have judgments about the “right” way forward and what is or is not possible to create next. These judgments create a straitjacket of their own, limiting what you are aware of and who you might be. When you ask, “What else is possible that I haven’t considered?” you open up to receiving the possibilities that are beyond what you decided was possible.

When you’re willing to ask questions and step into new possibilities, with all of your capacities available, you will find that the words you need in each situation will be available. You will naturally say what you mean by responding from the vulnerability of you and the awareness of what is required in the moment.

When you are vulnerable by letting down your barriers, choose in the moment and ask questions, you can use all of the jackets you have available as tools, without becoming any one of them. You don’t have to cut off aspects of yourself, but can use all of your capacities to your advantage, choosing in the moment what will create the most for you and your business.

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