Nice Talking with You (positivity and truth … is it either-or?)



“Say what you mean, but don’t say it mean.” Anonymous

I’ve written a lot lately about speaking up. Next thing I know, I’m also speaking up on my vlog, but this time it’s about being quiet unless we frame what we say in a positive light, in a way that tells what we stand for instead of what we stand against.

I questioned if I’d contradicted myself even before a friend commented, so I’m clarifying just in case. Positivity is good, but sometimes we have to …

  • Say the hard thing no one wants to hear.
  • Say the true thing we’d rather ignore.
  • State the reality we prefer to deny.

I also questioned if framing our messages positively and telling the truth, the kind people call “brutal honesty” because they don’t like it, are mutually exclusive. I must have thought so since most of my life I’ve told people what they’ve wanted to hear. I ended any message with a nervous little laugh to be sure no one took me seriously. I valued being positive (and liked) over being honest. No wonder family and friends interrupted my conversation, stopped me if they didn’t like what I had to say, and ignored my requests to not talk about topics like religion and politics. No wonder “no” didn’t mean no. No wonder I slammed doors instead of finishing a sentence. I had no voice.

Goodness, I’ve written about this until I’m sick of hearing myself talk about it, but I can’t stop until I get this out and until I get it straightened out. I don’t have a shot at doing what I’m telling y’all to do, #GettingYourOwnLife, until I get my own voice.

#WhileLovingthePeopleinIt isn’t happening either unless I’m willing to tell the truth. If I don’t love you enough to be honest, I don’t love you enough. Sometimes I can tell you what I need to say and frame it positively. I may figure out a way to keep it upbeat while keeping it real, or I may not. “You have a bad attitude” is hard to frame in a positive way.


I responded to my friend about my vlog when she commented something like, “There is a time to be positive, but there’s also a time to speak the truth.”

“You’re absolutely right,” I said. “I don’t want to be held to this video and expected to always be Polyanna.”

I’ve aspired for people to say, “I’ve never heard her say a negative word.” I don’t want to be her anymore. I want to speak up positively when I can. When I can’t, I’ll speak up kindly, but I’ll still speak up.

practice-615657_960_720Here are ways I’m practicing:

  • Say what I have to say and get out, especially if I’m confronting someone who explodes, defends, or acts senseless. I walk away so they have time to reflect and so I’ll stop talking. People typically argue not to deal with an issue, but to distract from it. I’m following Facebook’s meme with a fierce guy being chased by his opposition. It reads, “Give your opinion and run.”
  • Rock the boat. I speak up about what’s bothering me even when we’re getting along, especially when we’re getting along, because it’s easier to talk then and because a single issue is easier to deal with than a long list of all that’s gone wrong this week, this year, this decade. If I wait until troubles build up, the culmination feels overwhelming to me, and it sounds crushing to whoever is hearing it. My son said, “It would be easier to hear this stuff in increments. You know, along and along.”
  • Consider what’s important and helpful, and what’s not, when it comes to speaking up. Sometimes I fight just because I’m frustrated, maybe my husband’s finished with his paperwork while I’ve procrastinated over mine or he’s in bed early and I’m not. Other times I’m frustrated because I’m too afraid to speak up. That’s when I need to.


Here is what “speak the truth” is NOT:

  • An offensive comment to control, to insult, or to make a point we know doesn’t need to be made. Usually the point we’re making is,  “You’re wrong and I’m right.”
  • Disrespect like talking about something we’ve been asked not to talk about and for good reason, but we say it anyway.
  • A way of defying human courtesy instead of asking ourselves, “Is it kind? Is it true? Is it useful?” (By the way, these questions apply even when we’re talking about big personalities like Hollywood stars and political candidates. Their bigness doesn’t justify our belittlement.)

Does anyone else have anything to say about speaking up? I’d love to hear your take on it.

In This Together,

Thanks for the pix,


15 responses »

  1. I like the example of the Spartan king, Leonidas.

    When the Persian commander at Thermopylae urged Leonidas and his 300 men to surrender, he said that the Persian archers were so numerous that their arrows would darken the sky.

    “So much the better,” replied Leonidas, “then we can fight in the shade.”

    There’s always a good side.

    • I’ve never heard this before, Andrew. Thanks for sharing it here. I appreciate the positive response of Leonidas and I appreciate yours, “There’s always a good side.” It’s true even if the people I say “no” to don’t recognize it and the people I’m honest with don’t agree.

      I was happy to read your comment and even happier to see you here. Saying prayers for you often.

      • Mary Wilson, if you happen to read through these comments, you may want to check out Andrew’s blog. He posts a good bit about care taking and how to take care of yourself when your spouse is sick.

      • I so appreciate the prayers, Kim. Hard days, pain, debility and a dose of physical humiliation (three guesses but I’ll bet you only need one), but I have learned a lot!

        Never out of the fight.

      • I don’t know about you, but I get tired of learning, Andrew. 🙂 I’m saying that to be funny, but there’s a good bit of truth in it.

        I think about you each time I post because you were around early on for these blog posts. I just read some of yours and your writing is really inspirational and helpful.

        Thanks for staying in touch even though I’m sure you don’t usually feel like it.

      • Kim, thanks. I believe I did read Andrew’s blog a few months ago when he commented on one of your other posts. Andrew, thanks for your honesty about illness and caretaking. I will also keep you in prayer.

  2. I used to not be able to tell someone “NO” even when I wanted to if I knew they would be upset with me if I did. Also, I used to not be able to tell someone “NO” even if they asked for something and I did not want to give it to them, or allow something, because I thought they would be angry. This did not work out for me very well. I was always the one unhappy while everyone else was very happy. Why wouldn’t they be? They got everything from me they wanted. There is no way that “NO” can be positive. It just is not, lol. That was always my dilemma. There was no way “NO” could not make someone unhappy and I thought I was the one responsible to make everyone feel happy. I finally learned that it was not my job to make people happy but their own. I also learned that it is not my job to make people feel positive or comfy but their own as well. Once that got straightened out then “NO” became easier. Its my job to keep me happy and if someone is getting what I don’t want to give then I wont be. Sometimes it takes being unhappy enough to finally change it. I don’t want to make this any longer than it is, so I will stop short of my theories as to why we do this junk, lol. I think I can do “NO” without getting angry, at least I hope so!

    • Jenine, I didn’t think about there being no way to make something positive out of “no.” I’m like you, I’ve wanted others to be happy and I’ve felt responsible for their happiness, so I have given into them and given them what they wanted. The end result is I’ve resented it, which leads to me getting more and more unhappy with my life.

      The other funny thing about “no, ” and it just came to mind, is I used to get mad if someone asked me to do something and I had to say “no.” I was mad at them for putting me in an uncomfortable situation of having to turn them down. As it turns out, they didn’t put me there after all. My discomfort had me stuck there. The more comfortable I am with saying “no,” the less likely I am to get mad about having to say it.

      In fact, no, no, no, no, no. Just for practice. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Kim, I love these reminders that all of us need, sometimes on a daily basis. A wise friend of mine once told me, “NO is a complete sentence.” No further justification needed. I’ve found that, more often than not, people are OK with a simple no, and going on and on about why I said no is more annoying than just saying no. I also like the idea of saying here’s what I CAN do rather than an outright no. To me, that states my boundaries in a positive manner and is a win/win for both parties. I think we have to be really careful though, when “telling the truth” to others. I hear so much at church about telling the truth in love, but when I hear their “truth in love” it’s more often hurtful rather than helpful. I’ve seen that happen when I was leading a women’s Bible study and people attempted to tell the truth to others and really bollixed it up. As a leader I would then have to try to reframe the comment into something people could hear. If people aren’t ready to listen, no amount of truth telling will move the relationship forward. I’m glad you wrote about this topic and are speaking up more–and I also know from my past experience as a conflict referee and mediator, this is dangerous ground for those not skilled in framing their “no’s”.

    • As always, thanks for your comment, Mary. ❤ I also had a friend tell me, "No is a complete sentence" after listening to me again and again give a dozen excuses why I couldn't do something. She said, "No one wants to hear all of that." I knew she was right, but I couldn't stop myself sometimes. She helped me tone it down. 🙂

      It's so true some people misuse truth telling. I'm not sure there's any way to counteract how they blast people with words except to speak up kindly, but firmly, back to them. I keep wanting on here to explain, "Okay, y'all, this is for those of us who need permission to speak up, not for those of you who already do it and overdo it." But the latter wouldn't hear me and the ones of us who need permission still question ourselves and question when to speak up. I think that's why I keep writing on the topic because I'm hoping the ones of us who really need this actually hear it, so we'll speak up to the ones who are hurtful.

      There's a fine line, though, between dealing with "mean girls" like you mentioned in your blog post and becoming one. I think about that a lot, like the quote says, "Don't become a monster while fighting monsters." Oh, goodness, if I keep writing, I'll have talked myself out of ever speaking up again. LoL.

      Thanks! Your comments offer food for thought each time and sometimes lead to another blog post, although I think I'm finished for now with speaking up. I think …

  4. From Facebook (Kim Henson) ~

    Diana Hurwitz, Gayle Sloan and 5 others

    1 share (Christy Young)

    Christy Young Great message Kim!
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · August 5 at 5:12pm

    Kim Henson Thanks for your comment and for sharing, Christy Young! ❤ I appreciate you.
    Like · Reply · 1 · August 5 at 5:39pm

    Christy Young ❤
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · August 5 at 7:36pm

    Summer Turner Another thought-provoking and thoughtful post, Kim. I'm always leery of people who engage in truth-telling as a club-wielding sport, when what they really mean is give their opinion, which is their truth, not necessarily THE truth.
    Unlike · Reply · 2 · August 5 at 5:55pm

    Kim Henson Summer Turner, thank you. ❤ Your comment is insightful, so much so I wanted to blurt out in the middle of it, "Yes, that's what I was trying to say." 🙂
    Like · Reply · 1 · August 5 at 9:43pm

  5. Kim,
    Just got around to reading this blog. My most significant take-away is “Unless I’m willing to tell the truth. If I don’t love you enough to be honest”

    However, I do not believe that being positive and telling the truth are mutually exclusive. Certainly you will agree that the truth can be told positively.

    When truth is told one must ask why and for whose benefit is the truth telling? Certainly there are times when it is necessary to tell the truth. There are other times when others must be left to find truth on their own.

    If the truth is told to make me feel better, the comments to the offending party are best withheld. We should find another way to unburden ourselves of our feelings.

    Only this morning I sent a letter to a relative suggesting more focus on God and their spiritual side. I have been receiving thoughts from God on just how and when to frame this letter.

    By stressing his positive material accomplishments and the suggesting attention to the spiritual side I did not criticize one iota. I suggested he start from where he is at this time.

    I really do love this person and want him to win that eternal prize, a place in heaven.
    My letter was sent for his benefit, not mine. My reward comes from doing God’s will and the peace that it brings.

    Keep writing as you never know what good can come of it.


    • What a wise comment, Bob. I just talked with our son about this same thing. I mentioned something to him that he didn’t particularly want to hear and he wondered if it was selfish for me to unload how I felt. When he asked my motive, I had to think for a minute. I realized I shared what I did with him because I’d want him to do the same with me. We agreed I needed to ASK if he wanted to hear what I had to say before I launched into sharing it, but that my motive was concern instead of selfishness. ❤

      It's good to slow down and think about why and how we share with others.

      As always, thanks for stopping by and offering insight.

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