Honest Expression – Relationship Competency 3

Today I wish to introduce the third relationship competency within Mindful Compassionate Dialogue, which is Honest Expression. This week’s article by Wise Heart begins to explore and define honest expression as a relationship competency, specifically the first skill within the competency (each relationship competency has 6 specific and doable skills) which is Ask The Other Person If They Are Willing To Listen Before Engaging In Honest Expression.

Honest Expression is a rich and subtle practice that empowers you to live in alignment with your deepest values. Doing so often feels vulnerable, as it requires awareness and direct expression of your needs, explicit acknowledgment of interdependence through specific and doable requests, and negotiation with others. It helps you to truly collaborate with others while fully maintaining autonomy and self-responsibility.

Honest Expression includes the following:

  • Intention: Awareness of your intention when you speak
  • Connection: Awareness of the quality of connection in a given moment, both with yourself and another
  • Self-responsibility:
    • Take responsibility for reactivity by learning to recognise it and then name it aloud, or take time to get grounded before continuing to engage in dialogue
    • Express feelings and needs with full self-responsibility by making specific and doable requests of yourself or another
    • Take responsibility for thoughts, speech, and reactivity by discerning the difference between what you actually observed and the interpretations you made
  • Clarity: Know the difference between universal needs and related preferences and strategies for how needs are met
  • Action: Communicate specific and doable requests as the starting point of collaboration.

Remembering to ask the other person if they are willing to listen before you share is a mindfulness practice that honours a variety of needs and contributes to thriving relationships. Let’s look at three key aspects of this skill.

1. You are responsible for creating the listening you want

When you express something to someone with the intention to connect, you are investing your life energy and sharing who you are. This is a precious gift. You honour yourself when you ask if your gift can be received before offering it.

2. Respecting autonomy helps create authentic listening

Autonomy is one of the most important human needs. Regardless of another’s role in your life, they don’t have an obligation to listen to you. They are always at choice, whether they are connected to that choice or not. When someone listens out of obligation, guilt, or fear of conflict, you are left with a hollow feeling and lack of connection. Learning to make requests in a way that supports another’s choice is a skill in itself.

3. Respect and life-serving boundaries are supported with mindful sharing

When you respect your own need to be honoured and heard when you share, you remind others that you are worthy of respect. In this way, you establish boundaries little by little. Each time you ask to be heard or choose to stop sharing when you don’t receive the quality of listening you want, you establish a life-serving boundary. This either calls forth the best in the other person or reveals that they are not yet able to meet you in a fulfilling way at that moment.


  1.  Identify a specific context in which you would like to be heard.
  2. Choose how you would like to ask to be heard. Here are some possibilities:
    • Can I tell you something or do you want to talk later?
    • I have something to share.  Are you up for hearing it or are you needing some quiet time?
    • I have a celebration. Can I share it with you or are you really focused on what you are doing right now?
    • I am wanting to tell you about ______.  Are you interested in hearing?
    • I notice I am needing empathy.  Are you in a place for offering that? If not, I will do some journaling.
  3. Imagine asking and hearing “no.” Or, do a role-play with a study buddy.
  4. Notice your experience of hearing “no” using these categories of experience:
    • body sensations or reactions
    • feelings
    • thoughts, beliefs
    • needs
    • habitual behaviours or reactions
  5. Then practice one of the following when you hear “no”
    • self-empathy
    • empathy for the other person
    • negotiating another time

I hope you enjoyed this week’s blog.

Thank you for reading, for being here, and for being you.

With love.

If you would like to learn and cultivate the relational competencies, communication skills and emotional capacity needed to create compassionate, skilful and thriving relationships with yourself and others, have a look at our upcoming Mindful Compassionate Dialogue course.

You are also invited to join our free biweekly Empathy Circle, where you can learn and discover what empathy is, and more importantly, practice giving and receiving empathy, allowing you to be deeply seen and heard in whatever challenge or celebration you’re navigating.

If you’d like to experience a powerful coaching conversation, book a complimentary 1:1 Coaching Call with me.

Do you like this post? Share it:

1 comment

Leave your comment