Delivering the Truth

Wrap honesty in Love and hand it over gently.  Otherwise?  Don’t give it. 

Hand it over with appropriate timing and wording.  Otherwise?  Don’t do it. 

When Truth is meant to be shared, courage is a non-issue.  The words will rise naturally out of a honey marinade, engage the heart’s tongue and fall with angelic delivery. 

When there is no selfish motive, the other person feels Love’s energy.  It ignites the ability to hear and, hopefully, accept. 

All of us have at least one blind spot, tic or habit that escapes our radar.  We blame status, size, gender, intelligence, colour, appearance, race, or disability for robbing us from having perfect relationships.  We’ll buy expensive clothing instead of learning essential listening skills.

Imagine the power of someone caring enough to help us see the truth – that our obstacle is actually a silly impediment.

I saw that power in action.

In the early 1970s, I facilitated an Effective Reading course for managers in our financial corporation.  Increased print material robbed our time.  We needed newer and faster reading techniques.

One of the managers, Tom (not his real name), signed up for my next Effective Reading course.  Tom’s time with the organization had given him a strong and steady rise in his career, but not without a struggle.  Something prevented him from working easily with others.   When I saw his outstanding results and heard others discuss the excellent support they received from his department, it didn’t make any sense. 

One day in the cafeteria, a colleague pointed to where Tom was sitting, “He’s always alone.  Kind of a funny little guy.” 

I took my tray to Tom’s table and introduced myself, “May I join you?”

He smiled, cleared his throat and gestured, “By all means.  Have a seat.”

Although he looked confident, he continually cleared his throat with a loud, heavy cough.  I wondered if he was nervous about a single woman sitting at his lunch table.   The cutting coughs continued throughout the exchange.  I tried to imagine his wife living through this disconcerting condition.  What about his employees?  The light went on.  Could this be the cause of the reported interpersonal difficulties?

As I was gathering my tray to leave, Tom said, “Thanks for joining me. (cough) The course should be (hoorumph) a great help.

How on earth was I going to spend a day with that irritating habit?  What about the other participants?   In-company training sessions created great opportunities for feedback.  However, Effective Reading wasn’t geared toward discussions over a discombobulating, ever-present bombardment of throat clearing.

Today, class, we’ll talk about “Effective Balance”.  Could someone bring George’s bottom…that piece to the right?

The session began with each person briefly describing what they wanted to achieve in the course.  Tom coughed throughout his turn.  The other participants, listening intently, seldom looked at Tom when he spoke. 

While the participants took time to refresh coffee cups, I decided to add a step to the process.  I did a quick self-assessment.  What was my motive?  I wanted this gentle man to succeed.  Tom cared, he worked harder than most and his achievements surely spoke well of his determination. 

The program required participants to practice different reading techniques with a variety of reading material and complete a comprehension exam after each technique.  The tests consistently proved how much a reader can comprehend with a skim or a scan while searching for data we need. 

Today, I decided, we would tape the verbal responses.  Tom would be second. 

We listened to the first person’s audio:  first his reading objective – given before he read the article – and then his verbal summary.  Amazed at his retention level, the man laughed, “Yah, but I probably won’t remember any of it tomorrow!  Guess it doesn’t matter.  That wasn’t the objective.”   He got it.

Tom’s recording was next. He leaned forward in his chair as I hit the replay button.  We listened, “My objective (cough) is to skim the article to see ( humph) if the material would be (huuut) of any use to my assistant.”   Then, the pause indicating he had been skimming.

The group had listened patiently.   The room stayed quiet during the pause.  Tom’s voice began again with his comprehension summary.  The guttural interferences continued.

“Amy,” Tom interrupted. “Stop the recorder for a minute, please.”

Heart pounding, I hit the stop button.  Bless his heart, I thought. 

“What’s wrong with that machine?” he asked.

“The machine?  Nothing.  What makes you ask?”

“Well…what’s that noise?”

“What noise?”  I had heard no squealing or static.

“All that interference.” 

“Tom…are you talking about the coughing?” I said.

“Well, whatever that noise is…”

“That’s you…you cough when you talk.” I held my breath.

“All the time?”  He turned to his colleagues, “Is that the way I sound?”

The other managers nodded their heads.  One spoke up, “All the time, Tom.  You didn’t know you do that?”  

The room became a scene of a downed comrade.  He was carried to safety and recovery by a conspiracy of compassionate mates.  Each person sensed the man’s agony as each piece of a mighty puzzle fell into place.  Tom listened with dignity.  He held eye contact with each speaker.  He nodded occasionally.

He lowered his head and spoke with strength, “Thank you, everyone.  I had no idea.  It stops now.”

In my observations over the next six years, I did not hear him cough.  Nor did I have another chance to have lunch with  him alone.

***

Do we all have a blindspot that no one loves us enough to disclose?

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55 thoughts on “Delivering the Truth

    • What a ride it was. I met a man recently with the same last name. Oddly enough they were the same build and same quiet demeanor. He was from Australia and didn’t think he had any relatives in Canada. It was he who brought this incident to mind.

      Yes, it would be great to see and hear ourselves as others do, but that’s the very thing that frightens most people into closed minds! 😀

    • Hi Worrywart…why haven’t I been receiving notices from you lately. I’ll check to make sure things in the tech department are working between us! I agree with you. I think we do as well. Those loved ones either ignore the blind spot or they don’t want to hurt us. If only everybody could be sure their words wold be marinaded in honey!

    • Amazing what we’ll blame, Charles, so we don’t have to make the effort to take a good look. Sometimes hearing the blindspot throws us into a spin. In the end, I’d rather know…

  1. That was so beautiful- it made me cry. Maybe because so many of us long to be able to relate more truthfully, openly and deeply with others but never quite get there for one reason or another – and that is such a terrible waste. I’m so glad that ‘Tom’ was given that opportunity for his particular habit to be revealed in an environment where he was held and supported by Love- and that he had the diginity and grace and ability to allow it to stop from there onwards. May it be so for many more beings – we all deserve to become free of our ‘blind spots’ or anything that keeps us from relating to others in a way which fulfills our – and their – potential.

    • Oh, Taralah, it’s obvious this comment was written from a heart of full of Love. Many thanks for your visit and for sharing your soulful comment with us. You share my feelings to the letter.

  2. The saying is that truth hurts….I think many of us hold back truth because of that. I try my best to be tactful but gentle when disclosing hurtful truths and I try not to have to do it at all. Some of my family members are ultra sensitive and if you try to help them with truth they take it as personal attacks, no matter how helpful or well intentioned it us. It is much easier to be truthful with my friends.
    This is a very interesting story. Makes me wonder what I do that I don’t realize!

    • With every mentor I’ve had, I’ve asked them to help me see my blindspots. Yes, we all have them, but there is a caution. Some blindspots only appear to picky people! 😀

    • Yes, Dee, caring is essential and it’s a wise person who knows when caring becomes overbearing. I know a woman who makes people her “project” and she cannot understand why they hold her at arm’s length. In her confusion, she cannot see that the caring is more to fulfill the giver than soothe the receiver.

  3. If you want to be adored then you won’t have any friends. If you are predominantly interested in respect then you won’t have any friends.

    This is such a great post. Each of us so wants to be good and frequently we sabotage our own efforts without realizing it.

    It reminds me of the old Bugs Bunny cartoon where the fox is stealthily hiding behind a rock. He can see everyone and everything and thinks that he is hidden. But in truth all the other animals are whispering among themselves, “Do you see the fox behind the rock? Yea how could you miss him with his tail sticking high in the air like that.” Another chimes in, “He waves it like a flag so high above the rock he is hard to miss. Doesn’t he realize that we see him?” And this is the way we are….everyone can see our own tail wagging in the air.

    You’ve done an excellent job with “hearing the blind spot.” Thanks. Peace be with you.

    • What a grand story, IF. I love it! Doesn’t that say it all! It’s so like a theme Aesops would have written! This will stay with me – the sign of a good story.

    • I’m approving them both, Granny, because both have value. It IS hard to find that honey marinade! That’s why I pray over situations like this, ask to be given the push when the time is right and to be given the words. Then I forget about it. When I try to muster the marinade, it turns to mustard. Sometimes time changes things so dramatically, the matter become moot. Other times, it’s been months before the perfect time comes along. The Love is unforgettable.

      When I push the river, all hell breaks loose. 😀

      Plus, with this comment you made – what greater gift can we give our loved one but to be willing to look at ourselves? I’m not talking about being or becoming a doormat or taking the rap for what is not ours, but about being honest with what we can accept from ourselves AND from others.

      Overall, the key thing I’ve learned in this process is to step back, observe and let time do its work. One mentor said, “Get out of the way, Amy, there’s no room in there for God.”

  4. That was being honest without being vindictive. I have a friend who has an annoying habit of interrupting me before I can tell her the complete story or finish my sentence. I think Its time I should ask her to let me finish my sentence first

    • Hi HealthyMe, Oh, I’ve been in that spot, too. Finally I said, “I like finishing my own sentences” in an unwavering voice, with conviction and a pause that held a smile. Now that friend catches herself…she’s realizing she does it with everyone. Thankfully, she is a person willing to hear so that’s all I had to say.

  5. Great post. As part of our human shortcomings, I’m certain that every individual has a blind spot. I would imagine that it could be a very sensitive issue…
    Mmmm… I wonder what mine could be?

    • Thank you, Diana, truly it was his colleagues who rose to the occasion. The recording gave the opening, but they delivered the good stuff. The fact that Tom turned to them provided a full view of his vulnerability. Thankfully they didn’t back down from the truth.

  6. Ah yes….WPIML tells me if I cannot say it in a ‘necessary, kind and true’ way…..shush til I can! Needless to say, since I don’t like being shushed….LOL….I’ve learned to pause and check motives and deliver in love, with love, through love. Believe me when I say that’s required a whole LOT of practice.

    But I adore what you said in the opening.
    And Tom’s story made me teary eyed…….that others were able to lift him up in love and help him to BE all that he IS…..was such a powerful thing. I hope every one of them left wiser and more aware of the power of love than when they entered. I’m very clear Tom did. I’m proud for him–and of those who were able to walk him through truth in such a way that he was motivated to DO different because he was able to recognize that he WANTED different.

    Oh…..if only that could be boxed and sold in tablet form……..

    • Right, Mel, his colleagues did lift him and they did help him. I watched the whole scene through tears. I hoped for an opportunity to learn about the discussion between Tom and his wife when he went home. That had to be left to the imagination, but imagine being able to whisper sweet nothings without that invasive cough. Perhaps he didn’t cough at home…

      It sure does take a long time to finally be able to speak the truth. It’s incredible when we learn to trust that level of Divine Intervention.

  7. What leaps out at me from this incredible story, Amy, is your intuitive ability to assess the situation, with love and respect towards Tom. It takes courage to step back and allow things to happen, once you’ve set the wheels in motion. But when the results are so positive, it is amazing! Thank you for sharing this thought-provoking piece! 🙂

    • Writing about the incident has been a great reminder to me, Jacqueline. When we share what we have within us, the purpose of the message can be more for the teller than the told!

      Are there any Olympic reverberations for your wee isle?

  8. That was a powerful message, delivered by means of a powerful story. Tom was a lucky man to have landed in one of your workshops. Your idea of taping him (along with everyone else) was sheer brilliance. I fear that my own honesty is never delivered with as much grace as yours is.

    • Oh, Linda, there’s countless times of “spew and crash”! The spiritual muscle we need to exercise comes from a Divine Source. I’m not proud of the times there’s been heavy bleeding and bouts of remorse – for both them and me. I do use the technique I described to Granny here in the comments. I do pray and then forget about it. If the time and words come with Love, the curtain rises. Otherwise, I trust it’s not my business to even mention it.

  9. Amy.

    I found this such a thought provoking , if not a bit poignant, piece.

    What really is our “truth”? Is it ever absolute? As I think of this, I think of what really defines our truth. I guess it all boils down to our process of socialisation and the beliefs evolved thereof.. This really creates the perceptual lens through which we see the “truth” in situations, people and circumstances.Even 2+2 need not equal 4 based on synergy or otherwise.

    Tom’s truth would have evolved based on the perpetuating cycle of people’s responses around him and his perception of that which pushed him further and further into his defensive, if well meaning, shell of isolation.But was he conscious of this truth? Or was he subconsciously into an avoidance trap? To me it seems the latter.

    Your choice of doing the taping session clearly was a great step though I am not sure if you did it deliberately. And of course, Tom was lucky that his past predisposition allowed him to have such a great support structure amongst his colleagues to fall back on. I am not sure if he could have made the transition without that support

    I loved this, thank you!

    Shakti

    • Yes, Shakti, it’s the kind of situation that hopefully releases unique and individual introspection. We miss out on so much if our focus is on others. Everyone in that room was amazed that he never realized how much and how loudly he coughed.

      We may not be able to name our own blindspots, but we can accept we have them, begin the discovery and make changes that transform our lives.

      Thank your for your careful thought and commentary.

  10. Great post, Amy.
    After nine years in radio, much revealed itself.
    I think we all should listen to a recording of ourselves, now and again.
    Do we say what we mean and mean what we say?
    Are we habitual in our responses?
    And so forth.
    I interviewed others, and most were articulate. Some were not. It was a challenge and a bit touch and go at times, especially with the more well known among them.
    I applaud your diplomacy.
    Now if we can only get NPR male hosts to stop stuttering! I wonder why men do this, and not women?

    • Yes, I noticed how often one of my fav. hosts on CBC stutters. He even addressed it as sort of an “oh well” thing. But he has such finesse and asks such good questions that he’s easily appreciated.

      When I lived with a man who played the blame game, I was often bamboozled by what I supposedly said or by my reported tone. I longed for a replay button so I could see the truth. Wonder what relationships would be like if we could tap our temple and redo the scene!

  11. When I attended seminary, one of the most painful but helpful things was the critique given from colleagues and classmates about how preaching and worship leadership was perceived. Sometimes we twist a hand or sway back and forth or cock our heads one way—and we do not even know it is happening! Anxiety escapes us and we don’t even know it. But gentle words are helpful and removing those things when possible and helpful can remove a barrier between people.
    I love your approach here, particularly the part where you checked in with yourself to see what your motivations were 🙂

    • Thank you so much, Rosemary. I am delighted to meet you. There’s been a new relationship uncovered for me…your site is my cup of tea.

      Also, re the quick assessment? Let’s face it…Grace took charge. In hindsight, it could have been a scenario of double-dose-coughing at the risk of further distancing Tom. There was much for me to learn from that incident.

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