Self-Awareness

Part 2 - Real Talk: Practice of Genuineness

In our “Real Talk” blog series, we defined what genuineness means and discussed the two main steps to take in order to improve your sense of being genuine. We also touched on the principles of fear and risk — this valuable information is just the beginning!

In our “Real Talk” blog series, we defined what genuineness means and discussed the two main steps to take in order to improve your sense of being genuine. We also touched on the principles of fear and risk — this valuable information is just the beginning!

In this blog, we will review:

  • What genuineness is?
  • How to practice it being genuine
  • The three components that make up a genuine statement
  • The three types of genuineness blockers

Let’s get started!

As an educator, it’s important to recognize what your perspectives and fears are. Once these feelings are known, it’s time to practice genuineness and communicate these feelings. After all, who you are and how you experience the world matter — you are worthy of being understood by others. So what’s going to give you the best chance at this? Well, by sharing in a way that others can receive. Here’s our formula for just how to do that.

A genuine statement is made up of three key components:

  • A description of the situation or what is bothering you
    • Be specific about what the situation is to locate the problem. This gives focus to the need so that the listener can more readily address the issue
  • A short explanation of the impact this situation is having on you
    • The impact can be tangible (i.e., struggling to concentrate, inability to start the meeting on time, etc.) or a judgment about the other person or yourself (i.e., it makes it difficult for me to trust you, or it makes me think you don’t respect me, etc).
  • A summary of your feelings and needs that you are experiencing because of this situation
    • These feelings can be shared in one word, like, "It makes me feel angry/overwhelmed/demoralized…” or they can be shared in a more narrative form. Either way, consider what you need to feel seen, heard, and valued by this person or to repair the relationship.

By utilizing your genuine statements with these components, you will be able to communicate honestly and openly with other people during a conflict. However, they may be times when you are afraid to share your feelings and perspectives with others.

This is when our genuineness blockers are triggered.

Genuineness blockers are statements that shift the attention away from ourselves and towards silence, judgment toward ourselves, or toward the person who may be causing the difficulty.

Let’s identify three types of genuineness blockers:

  • Guarding
  • Blame-gaming
  • Dictating

Guarding

Guarding is an attempt to protect ourselves by staying silent, minimizing the issues, or discounting our own experience. It can sound like, “Never mind, it actually doesn’t matter…” Guarding may be an approach we use if we fear being vulnerable or misunderstood. Those fears are valid, and it would be helpful to explore them with a trusted friend or professional.

Blame-Gaming

Blame-gaming is when we blame ourselves or others for what has happened instead of focusing on our experience of the problem. Sometimes, blame-gaming can sound like, “It’s my fault for overthinking,” or, “You’re the reason…” As the name suggests, rather than communicating our perspective, this blocker tries to establish blame on a certain party involved.

Dictating

And lastly, dictating is when we impose our solutions or orders, typically phrased as “should" statements. Dictating could be an attempt to regain control or power in a situation in which we feel we have lost it or are disadvantaged with it.

Instead of being honest and vulnerable, these blockers can distance us and keep our true feelings from being heard. Any statement made using these defense mechanisms will not produce authentic, secure relationships.

In a school setting, creating genuine relationships with both staff and students is essential to personal and educational growth. Learning to lean into tense situations and practice genuineness will not only help you improve these relationships, but will also demonstrate to others how they should behave when problems arise.

As educators navigate the journey of genuineness in relationships, the words of Audre Lorde prove to be very helpful:

“I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood…My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you. But for every real word spoken, for every attempt I had ever made to speak those truths for which I am still seeking…of course I am afraid, because the transformation of silence into language and action is an act of self-revelation, and that always seems fraught with danger [but] you’re never really a whole person if you remain silent, because there’s always that one little piece inside you that wants to be spoken out, and if you keep ignoring it…one day it will just up and punch you in the mouth from the inside…. I think, we fear the visibility without which we cannot truly live…And that visibility which makes us most vulnerable is that which also is the source of our greatest strength.”

We hope that by expanding on the topic of genuineness in this blog, you have learned valuable information that you can implement in your own classroom. If you need help communicating your feelings about a situation in your school, download our Real Talk worksheet below — it includes guidelines for crafting genuine statements that help you express your thoughts and build secure relationships.

Real Talk Worksheet

Download Now

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