How to say what you mean without being mean

By Kimberly Giles, Contributor | Posted - Jul. 23, 2012 at 9:15 a.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY — Life is a complicated and messy endeavor. In LIFEadvice, Life Coach Kim Giles is here to help you with simple, principle- based solutions to the challenges you face. Coach Kim will empower you to get along with others and become the best you.


I guess I have issues with communication. I try to be a nice person and let things go, but after a while of being treated badly I explode and let the person have it. I don’t like how I handle these things but don’t know a better way. How can I handle conversations better?


You can learn to see these situations more accurately and speak your truth in a loving way, up front, right when things bother you.

Seeing situations accurately means knowing when to forgive and let things go, and when issues need to be brought up and dealt with. Gaining clarity and seeing these situations accurately is not hard. You just need to understand some truths about human nature.


Here are 10 points to improve your relationship skills.

  1. You are not being “nice” when you let offenses go. You are being scared. You are afraid you aren't good enough and are willing to betray yourself to gain approval from others. You may not be bringing these issues up, but you are not forgiving them and letting them go, either. You are holding onto them and they are building resentment toward other people. These offenses will fester until you either get sick or explode, and neither will be a very pleasant experience.
  2. Your “nice” behavior is really a subconscious program of fear that started when you were a child. This fear says it’s always safer to stay quiet. This program is not serving you as an adult. You must learn to speak your truth and do it in a loving way.
  3. Most bad behavior (toward you from other people) is not really about you. It is about their fears about their own value. This means most bad behavior is a plea for love and validation. When you see behavior this way, you can handle the person and the conversation in a way that validates both of you.
  4. Your value is infinite and absolute. Nothing anyone does, says or thinks about you can change your value or diminish who you are. Given this truth, could you forgive this person and give them permission to be a work in progress? They are doing the best they can with what they know, they just don’t know very much. Could you really let it go?
  5. If you can’t truly let it go, and it’s going to continue to bother you, then it is more loving to bring it up.
  6. You must bring this up (meaning, talk about it) from a place of love for yourself and the other person. This cannot be about making them the bad guy or proving you’re right. It has to be about improving your relationship and honoring and respecting both your feelings and your right to be a work in progress. It must be a mutually validating conversation that creates a win-win outcome. You must handle this conversation with love and compassion toward the other person.

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  1. Figure out the end result you want to come from this conversation ahead of time, so you don’t lose sight of your end goal. Focus the conversation on the behavior you want to see moving forward, not on rehashing and condemning their past behavior. This will prevent the other person from getting defensive. Most people are willing to change their behavior, but this can’t happen if you don’t speak up.
  2. Always ask questions and listen to their thoughts and feelings first, then they will be more open to hearing yours.
  3. Before you speak your truth, ask permission to do so. This shows the other person you honor and respect them and it creates a safer place for you to be heard and understood. Here are some examples of permission questions: “Would you be willing to let me share some of my feelings about this? Would you be willing to let me finish what I have to say before responding? Would you be open to some feedback, even if it’s hard to hear? Do you know I care about you and want us to have a good relationship?”
  4. Give people some time to process your truth. Don’t react to their first reaction. Let them sit with your truth a while and process their feelings about it. You must let them experience this situation the way they choose to. Their life is their perfect classroom (the right one for them), and this experience is in their life for a perfect reason. You must speak your truth in a loving way, and leave the rest on their shoulders. Remember, every time you speak to anyone, their fears of not being good enough are going to show up. You must tread very carefully here. You are dealing with a person’s self-esteem. This is sacred ground. Treat them as you would like to be treated.

You will find that as you practice this and speak your truth more often, people will actually respect you and like you more. People would rather hear the truth than a “nice” response which isn’t truth.

You can do this.

Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of and She is a sought after life coach and popular speaker who specializes in Clarity: seeing yourself, others and situations accurately.

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