Three Questions to Ask Yourself

If you don't know who Luvvie Ajayi is, you should get familiar and her Ted Talk is a great way to start. The gist is this: Ajayi advocates disruptive behavior, but not in that cliché, it's-a-current-buzzword-so-I'm-going-to-use-it-and-be-annoyingly-interruptive sort of way; instead, she encourages us all to speak our minds and get "comfortable with being uncomfortable." 

The gist is very Ghandian in spirit - you know, be he change you want to see in the world. The change in this case begins with speaking up when you see a problem or something that needs to be move in a different direction (change!). IMHO, I think a lot of people stay silent because we've become used to this image of the disrupter being off-cuttingly arrogant and bulldozer-ish, yelling and stomping feet as the catalyzers that simply invite change because everyone else wants their relative peace back. Ajayi, however, flips this notion on its head, and offers a kinder, gentler way toward the greater good that is more effective than the image conjured above. More effective in that it invites others to listen, it gives them buy-in, and in turn, effects change that lasts. When you see something that you'd rather not stay silent about, Ajayi advises you ask yourself these three questions:  

  • Do you mean it?
  • Can you defend it?
  • Can you say it with love?

Answer yes to all three and you should be on your way. Similarly prescriptive advice can be found within Buddhist texts and other sources (Is it kind? Is it helpful? Is it necessary?), but the bottom line is that speaking thoughtfully, truthfully, should be the norm, rather than the exception. If you can embrace this, you will be well on your way to becoming an incredibly effective communicator and changemaker.