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Courageous Communication

December 29, 2017

There are four fundamentals of courageous communication these are: honesty, listening, empathy and understanding.


To communicate honestly about our own feelings, is not always comfortable or easy.  We can often be misunderstood, risk fear of rejection or say things that people don’t want to hear. 


In good and clear communication all parties involved are speaking honestly, understanding each other and are listening to what is being said.  However, if we need to communicate about a challenging topic in an honest way, this can bring up many things like fear, disagreements, reactions and misunderstandings. 




If we are in communication with someone that doesn’t listen, puts us down, or doesn’t understand us, it can easily lead to difficulties or splits in the relationship.  For these reasons speaking honestly requires courage.  




When we feel fear about communicating, we should check in with ourselves to see if honesty is a factor in the equation.  It may not be the only element that contributes to our fears, but it may be a important thing to consider. 


It may be that we need to be honest with ourselves about our true feelings, or we may have to be honest with the other person about something.  Either way, this can be challenging and require courage. 


As we cultivate the capacity to speak from the voice of our inner courage, considering the role of honesty is essential.


In Non-Violent Communication, Marshall Rosenberg speaks of the importance of feelings and needs.  Being able to hear the feelings that others are expressing, is an essential practice that allows us to understand what core emotion(s) are present for them.  When we clearly understand other peoples feelings and emotions, we can then get to the root of core needs that they have which are connected to those emotions. 





To be able to really hear what a person is saying, and be present for their feelings and needs, takes empathy and the ability to understand their feelings.  Here we return to three of the fundamentals of courageous communication: genuinely listening, feeling (empathizing) and understanding. 




When we communicate with people about difficult subjects, it can be challenging to not become reactive and hold tight to our own opinions, ideas and beliefs. 


Stepping outside of our own judgement and blame, is necessary to really hear a person and practice empathetic listening.  (To do this requires practicing the virtue of transcendence.) 


Without being able to step outside or our own beliefs, we will not be able to fully understand each other.  By stepping outside of our own opinions and ideas, we can gain a bigger perspective on any subject matter, and be in a much better position to hear what is going on for people.  This all takes courage. 


Similarly, there are times in life when we must admit that we are wrong, as we like to be right, it is very challenging to admit when we have made errors.  To admit to being wrong exposes us, brings up vulnerability issues and remorse. 


The need for being honest with ourselves and others, may also arise when we have made mistakes or been in the wrong.  To be present for our mistakes and wrongs, while exercising honesty all takes a tremendous amount of courage. 


Similarly, when we must hold to our truths and maintain our boundaries in life, it takes courage to communicate our truth to people. 


There are times in life when we must maintain our boundaries with people, some will place inappropriate blame on us, or push our limits as they try to take advantage of us or harm us in some way.  To communicate our truth in times like this takes courage. 


In these situations, it is important to address any fears that may be present, as fear may block communication that is necessary.  By cultivating the inner voice of courage, and steadying our self in that voice, we can courageously communicate the things we need to express.  


When discussing challenging topics, disagreeing, or even speaking about the things that we don’t want to talk about, implementing these four fundamentals of courageous communication can lead us in the right direction. 


Open, honest and transparent communication depends on the fundamentals of courageous communication.  


To gain deeper insight into courageous communication it is useful to reflect on the following questions.   


  • Why does honest communication require courage? 

  • When do we need to bring courage to communication?

  • Why does it take courage to really hear someone?

  • How does empathy connect to courage? 

  • Why does empathetic understanding take courage?


Much of our success and happiness is connected to our relationships with other people, and for this reason courageous communication is essential for success and happiness. 


By cultivating our inner voice of courage, and practicing the four fundamentals of our courageous communication, we can strengthen our relationships with those that matter most.  We will also earn the respect and adoration of people when we move from a place of courage, while also practicing empathetic listening and seeking to understand the feelings and needs of others.   


The above article is an excerpt from the book: 7 Virtues for Success and Happiness, The Book for Courage, by James Spears.




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