The courage to be confronted is the courage to hear the things you don’t want to hear. This can include information that is new to you or something that challenges your sense of reality. It might be about the negative impact of your words and behaviors, or it might point to the consequences of failing to take action. Courage is required because hearing such things from others is usually painful. Yet, when you stay open to difficult feedback–without shutting down, defending, denying or counter-attacking–you stay open to learning, growing, and building stronger relationships. If you model listening, and respond non-defensively, you invite others to do the same. By actively seeking to understand other viewpoints–you are not required to agree with these–you help to cure intolerance and cultivated ignorance.
Integrity is like a two-sided coin. It requires that you speak your truth and also that you model the courage to hear the truth of others, especially when you disagree or when they are being critical of you. Integrity is very demanding and does not wait on comfort or peace of mind; it challenges you to speak up and to also then listen carefully to others. Learning to listen openly, actively and non-defensively is nearly a lost art form in our society. Yet, without it, we all risk being blind-sided in our relationships, at work and in our society (witness the 2016 election results in the United States). Developing the courage to be confronted generates powerful outcomes: when you get insight into how others think, feel and perceive, you also acquire a greater capacity to positively influence others.
Are you ready to generate greater personal integrity? Would you like to minimize the chance of being blindsided? Would you like to be more influential with others? You can develop the courage to be confronted by frequently asking others the following question: “What is the one thing I could change that would make the biggest positive difference in our way of relating or working together?” Look for any patterns or themes in the feedback you get; these are the most important to work with.
If you care to make this world a kinder, better place, then I invite you to model the courage to be confronted as a crucial behavior toward that goal. Now, let me go ask my wife what she has to say to me…
By Robert E. Staub