The Power Of Saying What You (Honestly) Feel

Today’s article concerns a skillset I consider to be of the utmost importance. It’s something I’ve worked on for years and that I’m always looking to get better at myself. It’s one of the keys that’s allowed me to land so many great media opportunities and work with so many people in the last three years.

If you apply this to your dating life you’ll be able to communicate your standards far more effectively, and have a much happier, more amicable relationship as a result. Enjoy!

Enter Stephen

This post is inspired by a conversation with a reader at Matt’s London tour event (Hi Manon!) who said she wanted me to say something on the blog about how to express yourself. Or as she put it “how to match what comes out your mouth with what’s in your head”. I’m not sure if the advice below is what she was looking for, but it’s what that conversation inspired.

***

“These days I just can’t seem to say what I mean” – Haruki Murakami – Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman: 24 Stories

First things first, I am English.

If you’re still reading, I salute you. You are clearly immune to the common prejudice that says citizens of my isles (the entire UK, really) are so deeply repressed and stifled, so blunderingly polite and emotionally closed-off, that they have no business whatsoever telling others how better to communicate their feelings.

I don’t think struggling to say what you feel is a British problem. By which I mean to say, it totally is a British problem. It’s just not exclusively a British disease.

It can be incredibly difficult to explain our honest thoughts, or to communicate in such a way that expresses genuine emotion, without being subject to confusion or misinterpretation.

Expressing ourselves well is a powerful skill, whether in or out of a relationship. It can make us more charismatic, more able to make a fast connection with others, and more able to be truly understood.

Many of the times when we fail at expressing ourselves we panic and say things we don’t really mean, or spew out a vomit of vacuous phrases that don’t even come close to the perfect thought inside our head. Or we skirt and dance around an issue and never really feel like we got to the real point.

So here’s a few simple ways to match what’s in our head with what comes out of our mouth:

1. Avoid cliché

Anyone who has ever taken a writing class will know that writers are told to always avoid clichés. Clichés are phrases we’ve heard so many times that they have lost all their impact. They are, in the words of Martin Amis, ‘dead phrases’.

This isn’t to say we should avoid simplicity. A simple phrase like “I love you” or “you are so special to me” can have enormous importance in the right context.

But if you want to express your own unique thoughts about a person or an issue, it’s important to dig deeper, and resist the temptation to reach for the nearest available generic phrase.

Instead of telling your friend or partner “aww, that’s sweet”, probe your mind further to explain the exact emotion you’re feeling. For example, if your partner does something nice for you, it’s much more powerful to say “You really know how to take care of me. I’m so in love with that protective side you have. No-one else can make me feel that.”

This is a much more impactful and truthful phrase than just saying, “Thanks, you’re so lovely” because it expresses something unique about their character instead of being a generic compliment. It requires a little more digging and imagination, but when you express yourself honestly in this way it’s the kind of thing people never forget.

(For more on how to give good compliments, I definitely recommend you check out Matt’s video on this – see it as a kind of companion piece to this article.)

2. Speak out your whole thought process, even when you don’t fully understand your thoughts

If it’s difficult to find a way to express what’s in your head or even to understand it in the first place, it’s probably because you’re not explaining how you really feel.

Perhaps you’re explaining what you think you’re supposed to feel, or you feel confused so you just close up and say nothing at all, only to have the person next you say “what’s wrong?”, to which you feel you have no answer. Or you’re feeling different things at the same time and don’t know which to express.

The easiest way to be understood in this situation is to just speak out your thought process. If there are conflicting thoughts in your mind, just speak each of them out. Sometimes just verbalizing a thought process will make you clearer about what you actually feel – you’ll hit on what the dominant emotion is and be clearer in what you want to say. Speaking the confusion out loud like this makes it easier to process your inner dialogue.

It sounds weird at first but try it. The more honest you are with yourself the quicker you’ll discover what you actually want to say.

3. Use examples and be specific

To express yourself truly, it’s important not to be vague.

If, for example, you say things like “I’m just confused” or “I’m just annoyed”, the person you’re speaking to won’t understand what’s actually going on.

The easiest way to explain to someone how you feel in an argument, for example, is to pinpoint a specific moment that changed your mood and explain exactly what emotions it made you feel (this might mean having to open up and be more vulnerable. For example, you might have to admit you feel ‘rejected’ or ‘hurt’ rather than just ‘annoyed’ – be true to what you actually feel rather than toning it down to protect yourself).

So instead of something vague like: “You make me so angry”, walk the person through the specific moment that you felt upset. For example: “The other day when you did xxx it really made me feel like you didn’t trust me/like you weren’t looking out for me/like I needed you and you weren’t there etc…”.

The crucial thing about being specific in this way is that it helps the other person understand where the problem occurred and exactly how it made you feel.

On a less couples-therapy note, if you want to say something positive, you can encourage yourself to be more creative and specific with phrases like:

• “The best thing about you is…” – then give them an example of a time they showed this quality by saying – “like that time you did…”

• “I really admire your…”

• “I love it when you…”

These phrases encourage you to open up more and make what you’re saying more personal.

4. Speak because you want to communicate – not to win approval

It’s easier to express yourself the less you obsess over it.

It sounds simple but when you want to communicate a thought or emotion, just say what you feel spontaneously and in the moment and you’ll probably end up being more honest and straight about what you mean than if you sit analyzing it in your head for ten minutes.

This is also a great mindset to have on first dates, because it lets you cut through all the usual over-polite, stifled, bulls**t conversations people usually have. You’ll connect with a stranger much faster when you’re being honest and ‘unscripted’.

The best way to do this is to have the child-like attitude of speaking as if you’re not worried about how the other person is going to react or whether you’ll be judged. Stay grounded and firm in your own reality, instead of second-guessing whether the other person is going to approve of what you’re about to say.

You’re saying it because you want to communicate and be understood, not because you are seeking someone else’s approval.

Do you have any more tips you would add to these? If so, I’d love to hear them. Be super honest and write them below!

***
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*Photo credit: DaunPhilipp

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49 Responses to The Power Of Saying What You (Honestly) Feel

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  1. Taty says:

    Interesting article and nice practical tips. About point 2, I also think it’s important to be honest about how we feel and try to express it in the most genuine way… However being wise with choosing the time and how we say certain things is advised.

    If we are always so direct and say what we think, maybe the other person would not appreciate it or even feel offended. For instance, if I am not even sure what I feel and I start saying something that perhaps it is not even true to what I am really feeling, because I am not sure, it will make also the other person unsure and if he or she is not mature enough to understand you (depending on your level of relationship) you will be misunderstood for sure, and well, if you are not even sure yourself how to express, it’s better to say nothing than to say something you will regret.

    It is said that words are like arrows, they don’t come back after they are fired. Anyways,I do appreciate honesty and I feel it’s a pity when we are not able to express our real emotions because we are afraid to hurt others or maybe because we will be misunderstood. Emotions change also, in one moment we may think we feel something and the other it changes, we can’t trust our emotions. Not everybody is this mature to understand it. The bottom line here is: it’s important to be careful with our words sometimes, it may get somewhere we don’t want to go and there might be no way out of it.

  2. Ashley says:

    Intriguing post. This really struck a a cord with me. I am originally from the east coast where we have the stereotype of being brash and straightforward. Even though I hate stereotypes, moving to the Midwest made me realize that it is somewhat true and made me miss that raw honesty. That being said, I think everybody can strick a happy medium in the way we express things in the feelings department. When it comes to negative emotions or thoughts, I think it is important to express them, but women have an unfortunate tendency to nag… We think we’re helping and acting loving by telling our partner about every little thing that could be better, but really it creates the opposite effect. Instead, I believe in being cheerleaders. Focus on the little things they DID correct and little by little they’ll do it more and better. When something is really frustrating/hurtful and it is hard to see any good in a partners actions then responding honestly with a, “that really hurt me” is important, but following with a “but when you do xyz in that situation I feel loved, cherished and the luckiest girl in the world.” is even more important. This simple add on shifts the focus to something good about your partner and guides their actions in a tender, loving and less nagging way that rewards alternative actions they have performed in the past. I’m currently working on refining constructive criticism in the work place with a coworker that has very low self esteem and has a hard time taking any direction. It’s been a good learning experience. Thank you for the post on the topic!

  3. ann says:

    very good job in succinctly expressing your thoughts. It took some deep desire to improve communication and interaction.

    good job Stephen!

  4. Beth says:

    Great Article. I find when communicating that it’s more difficult to do it on the internet because you don’t have the person there to hear they’re emotions, or tones in they’re voice you only have the words. So it much easier to come off on the wrong foot when texting or making a comment on the internet. Honesty is always the best policy I believe!

  5. says:

    “Why settle on being fake when being real is effortless?”:)
    I was reminded of this thought while reading this article.This is a good reminder Steve.
    Being “child-like” and yet not childish :)is another way to create meaningful conversations. Keep your sanity no matter how crazy the situations is.

    Honesty is a good deposit to any “Relationship Bank Account” when we mean what we say, people tend to trust us makes us credible to say a thing the next time.

    Relevance:100%
    Content: 100%
    This is complete :)nothing to add up.

  6. Laetitia says:

    Really good advices, absolutely relevant. It reminds me this book “Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life” by Marshall Rosenberg I read. It powerfully opens the mind. Like your posts this book helps me grow. I realises many of my fears, expectations I was not able to express and some I was not aware of.
    All the best!

  7. Darya Zhukova says:

    Thank you, Stephen!
    I’m Russian and I’m absolutely sure that Russians have problems with expressing what they actually feel too. And It has always been difficult for me to show my real emotions and say out loud what my opinion is. Your article made be understand that it’s normal and It can be treated :)

  8. Erika Browell says:

    Wow, this article is super helpful. 2 and 3 are the trickiest for me, but I will eventually get batter at them with practice.

  9. Mandy says:

    This is something I’ve been working on recently. I am usually good at expressing positive emotions and encouraging people, but I usually don’t say anything when someone does something that hurts or annoys me, and instead I just hide and ignore them, or keep it inside until I explode.

    But I’ve been dating a guy for about two months now and he is great. But he kept doing something that hurt me, and I know he didn’t mean it, but it didn’t change how I was feeling. So since I didn’t want to ignore him or explode, I decided to say something about it, which was ten times more scarey.

    So finally last night I said something to him. Well, actually I facebook messaged him about it because I am still really timid about sharing my feelings. Bad, I know, but it was the only way I could do it. I actually cried as I was composing the message, less because of what I was trying to tell him, and more because I was just scared of putting my emotions out there and being vulnerable.
    And I didn’t want to say it in such a way that it seemed like I was accusing him of anything or make it seem like he was a bad person for doing it, because he’s not. He has so many amazing qualities that I don’t see in very many other people.

    So I used the “criticism sandwich” approach. I first told him about something I love about him, which then brought me to the thing that hurt me and so I told him that, using a specific example, and then end I thanked him for how supportive he’s been with something I’ve been working on.

    Hopefully I did that right. But we still kind of have the problem where I think we are both nervous around the other person and it can stifle communication. That was another reason I didn’t want to say anything, I was afraid, and still am, that it will make him less communicative with me. But I knew I would never open up to him if he didn’t stop, or at least try to stop doing that. We’ll see how it goes. He did respond in the right way and seemed sorry that he had hurt me without meaning to.

  10. Anna says:

    Wow. This article truly changed my day <3

  11. Zoe says:

    Hi Matthew and Stephan,

    I am a student in my 3rd year of Occupational Therapy at Curtin University. Our course teaches us about the importance and value of inclusion.

    On a side note: Have you considered embedding a ‘read-aloud’ application on your blog for individuals with vision impairment or the deaf? It may also enhance the experience for those who are more auditory learners. Lastly, what are your thoughts on setting up a ‘Get the Guy’ online journal (5- 10 minute reflection) which provides woman the opportunity to type notes at the bottom of videos or articles you post to promote reflection and learning? This journal could be revisited at any time to allow women to see how their insight has evolved over time. Study questions could guide and enhance learning. It could be a fantastic learning package.

    Thanks for the article!
    Zoe.

    • Stephen Hussey says:

      These are both interesting suggestions Zoe, i’ll pass them onto the team and see what they think (I’m just the blog-writer ;) Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. Stephen x

  12. Kathryn Green says:

    Hello Stephen,
    I think you hit the nail on the head when you write about honest thoughts. Most of the ways you describe for helping to express ourself requires a great self- awareness of our own emotional needs. To put these across in order to have them met, to portray our individual standards and to create chemistry. This all requires a bit of digging deep and imagination.
    I like all the points you raise. I like the power of simplicity. Where a lot of words and emotions become jumbled and meaningless, sometimes a simple phrase can capture everything you wanted to say clearly and with a more powerful effect. Especially if it is individually expressed.
    If we are honest and truly feel confident within ourselves, we will communicate honestly not for external validation. No one wants a compliment that isn’t heart felt, or to be on the receiving end of cliches.
    I’ve no tips as you have once again covered everything. I feel like I should be taking notes! In fact I am going to write some notes from your articles. There’s a lot to digest. I like that these are not specifically for dating but life skills. Thank you, awaiting the next installment : )
    K X

    • Stephen Hussey says:

      Really appreciate this Kathryn. Thank you for your lovely words about the article. Definitely agree, simplicity is the key. Sometimes our emotions are not always as complicated as we would like to believe. x

  13. Susanne says:

    ♥♥♥♥♥WOW♥♥♥♥♥
    It’s the sixth time Matt & his brother speak together here :)
    *Thank you very much*
    ♥ Your conversation :)
    To Open ♥ share ♥ love ♥ live ♥
    ♥Jesus Christ♥ encouraged us to do the same and he himself did too: Every moment! :)
    He shared love, peace, the power of his spirit, gospel, fish & very important too: God’s word :)
    ♥Jesus Christ♥ said:
    “The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the spirit and life.” (John 6:63 )
    “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and does not go back again, but gives water to the earth, and makes it fertile, giving seed to the planter, and bread for food.
    So will my word be which goes out of my mouth: it will not come back to me with nothing done, but it will give effect to my purpose, and do that for which I have sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11)
    “He sent his word and made them well, and kept them safe from the underworld.”
    (Psalms 107:20)
    & ♥♥♥♥♥NOW♥♥♥♥♥
    Steve you encourage to open up more :)
    Wow :)
    That is so warm-hearted of you :)
    To Open ♥ share ♥ love ♥ live ♥
    Jesus Christ did too & shared & loved & saved mankind!
    How wonderful we can open up ourselves too:)
    & ♥♥♥♥♥WOW♥♥♥♥♥
    The phrases you mentioned! :)
    They are fantastic because they spread love:)
    To say something nice and spread love and to be super honest is always beautiful indeed :)
    It creates love & peace :)

    + ♥Jesus Christ♥ did that every moment :)
    So if we practice and when Jesus Christ or a person we love stands at our hearts door we will be well prepared &
    love & live :)
    ♥♥♥♥♥Thank you for practicing something very beautiful & special with us ♥♥♥♥♥
    It is fun to practice with the Hussey brothers :)
    Hearts for the wonderful Hussey brothers and beautiful conversations :)
    Susanne

    • Susanne says:

      Still touched by your question :)
      & it’s fun to answer :)

      Yes, I realize people open up more when you say phrases that create love & peace :)
      Everything that creates love and peace does :)

      So I’d say: Think of something that creates
      love and peace :) and share it with the person you want to talk to :)

      Some more phrases :
      “You truly touched my heart”
      “I am deeply moved by…”
      & ofcourse:
      “The way you kiss my heart is amazing Jesus Christ”

  14. Md Aamir says:

    Very informative article.

  15. Raquel says:

    I love that last one about being speaking I’m the moment and not analyzing it. sure one might come off as silly or “not the brightest lightbulb” but it’s being honest and seeing how that person reacts/takes it to know if there’s a connection or their real “colors” to show and probably a good way to break the ice and that “cool guy mood” would melt away because that’s so annoying like get over yourself already which by the way
    what’s is a good way to get beyond the “cold guy mood” stage?

    XOXO
    RAQUEL

    • Stephen Hussey says:

      Get him to open up by asking him questions that seek out his values. e.g. ask him what his favourite job in the world would be, or what he’s proudest of having achieved. Any questions that aren’t just factual and that give him the chance to open up. Most guys will if you prompt them the right way, even if they naturally begin in ‘cool guy mood’. Thanks Raquel! Stephen x

  16. Susanne says:

    Dear Hussey brothers :)

    What I ♥ about “The power of saying what you honestly feel” is
    ♥I love you♥ :)
    It is one of the most heart-touching sentences :)&
    I love the way you connect I love you with enormous importance & the right context :)

    If human beings could say I love you & love each other every moment of each day we would live in a world of LOVE and PEACE :)

    Thank God for creating heaven :)& that human beings can truly love each other and say I love you :)

    If I could I’d say I love Jesus Christ endless times :)

    In fact, a few years ago I wrote love letters to Jesus Christ :) I enjoyed writing ♥I love you♥ so much, it became one of my biggest passions :) Once I wrote it more than 100 times and this was the time when I started to compose music which became one of my biggest passions too :) Heart-kisses for Jesus Christ: always! :)
    These were one of the best moments of my life :
    Moments of LOVE :)

    After composing more than a thousand melodies for Jesus Christ :) & expressing what I truly feel for Jesus Christ I agree to the wonderful Hussey brothers Matt and Steve,
    it is the best to express what you truly feel with all your heart : in words or melodies and ofcourse action :)

    ♥♥♥♥:)Beautiful hearts for the Hussey brothers :)♥♥♥♥

    Susanne

    • Susanne says:

      ♥♥♥♥♥WOW♥♥♥♥♥

      It’s the sixth time Matt & his brother speak together here :)

      *Thank you very much*
      ♥ Your conversation :)

      To Open ♥ share ♥ love ♥ live ♥

      ♥Jesus Christ♥ encouraged us to do the same and he himself did too: Every moment! :)
      He shared love, peace, the power of his spirit, gospel, fish & very important too: God’s word :)

      ♥Jesus Christ♥ said:

      “The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the spirit and life.” (John 6:63 )

      “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and does not go back again, but gives water to the earth, and makes it fertile, giving seed to the planter, and bread for food.
      So will my word be which goes out of my mouth: it will not come back to me with nothing done, but it will give effect to my purpose, and do that for which I have sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11)

      “He sent his word and made them well, and kept them safe from the underworld.”
      (Psalms 107:20)

      & ♥♥♥♥♥NOW♥♥♥♥♥

      Steve you encourage to open up more :)
      Wow :)
      That is so warm-hearted of you :)

      To Open ♥ share ♥ love ♥ live ♥

      Jesus Christ did too & shared & loved & saved mankind!
      How wonderful we can open up ourselves too:)

      & ♥♥♥♥♥WOW♥♥♥♥♥
      The phrases you mentioned! :)
      They are fantastic because they spread love:)
      To say something nice and spread love and to be super honest is always beautiful indeed :)

      + ♥Jesus Christ♥ did that every moment :)

      So if we practice and when Jesus Christ or a person we love stands at our hearts door we will be well prepared &
      love & live :)

      ♥♥♥♥♥Thank you for practicing something very beautiful & special with us ♥♥♥♥♥

      It is fun to practice with the Hussey brothers :)

      Hearts for the wonderful Hussey brothers and beautiful conversations :)

      Susanne

  17. Randa says:

    If you were in Spain (I wonder if you’d actually dare to drop by down here hahaha) I’d raise a caña on your behalf for this article. Couldn’t avoid smiling while reading the intro :P:P:P

    Enter serious Randa:

    Another tip I’d add…actually two other tips I’d add would be:

    1) Writing down confusing emotions (following up on your point #2). I personally hate technology so texting or emailing are not options for me, but jotting emotions down on a piece of paper sure helped me more than once to have a better idea of what I’d say to a person (not only partner but this also applies at work, with family/friends etc).
    Obviously, it’s kind of hard to jot down in a piece of paper confusing thoughts when arguing (you don’t usually PLAN and argument…sadly hahah), when having a great time or whatever; which takes me to my second trick:

    2) Being aware of our body reactions/language (a.k.a nonverbal communication) WHILE expressing those feelings (heart pumping faster? butterflies in the belly? knees or voice shaking? eyes twitching? and a long etc). To me those are extremely helpful indicators that help express the primary emotions I feel.

    Can’t wait for the next piece! Keep rrrrocking!
    (Boy am I glad I was never into drug… Your writing is having a “once you start you can’t stop” effect! yish!)
    Saludos!
    xx
    R

    • Stephen Hussey says:

      Hi Randa! Lovely to hear from you as ever. These extra tips are great for identifying your emotions. The more you do it, the more it will be easy to express it when you feel it again.

      P.S I love Spain. I went twice last year (Barcelona and Madrid) but could easily find excuses to come back.

      Stephen x

      • Randa says:

        Hi! Well it’s great to read your feedback so, my pleasure ^_^

        Wait… so you’re saying I could have easily bumped into you without even realising in Madrid?! Well now you have an excuse to come back Monsieur! But this time to Bilbao; just moved here a few months ago and it’s got nothing to do with the other two!
        BTW which one did you prefer?
        Hasta pronto!
        x

  18. Manon says:

    If only I could hug you right now. In the meantime, I’ll try with words, until I see you next.

    Thank you, Stephen, for having listened to my thoughts, and taking the time to sit down and think with me about this topic. It means a lot. I like what you came up with, especially this part:

    “Many of the times when we fail at expressing ourselves we panic and say things we don’t really mean, or spew out a vomit of vacuous phrases that don’t even come close to the perfect thought inside our head. Or we skirt and dance around an issue and never really feel like we got to the real point.”
    One couldn’t have said it in a better way.

    To your first point about avoiding clichés, I could not agree with you more. I’ve been raised not to opt for ‘dead phrases’ because, like you said, it is about showing them that the connection you have with them is unique. People should take the time to read others, to see what makes them, them. If given the choice, no one wants to be put under the same hat. You do not win brownies for saying you are like everyone else, let’s squeeze you in with the others, but rather, they’ll remember you in a more positive way, when you make it clear to them, that they fit under a very special hat just made for them.

    Besides, you having remembered my exact wording rather touched me, even more so, after such a long exciting and exhausting day. Chapeau!

    Secondly, everyone knows that moment in life, where you only have 30 seconds to get your point across before being interrupted (again). Personally, my opponent being impatient or angry is the worst enemy to my communication skills. I do not dislike disagreements, but I despise the way they are too often conducted. (That’s another topic) Thus, sometimes, the stronger the emotion, the more my brain freezes and words come out like little hiccups. Having said this, your second point helps; in that we should rather go with the flow and not be so hard on ourselves next time we don’t know which ones to express first or at all.

    Your third point really connects to your former point. Using examples to be more specific is great. Occasionally I even use metaphors; they are my favorite way of expression.

    Moreover, you mentioned the words ‘spontaneous’, ‘unscripted’ and ‘honest’, to which I say: yes, yes and yes. Unless you’ve been chewing constructively on your thoughts, there is nothing sexier than a raw conversation.

    Hope to hear from you soon,

    Manon

    P.S.: What happened to the picture with the couple at the ocean, I really liked it. To my defense, the title stipulates honesty and there you’ve got someone hiding behind a salad bowl… ;)

    • Stephen Hussey says:

      Manon! I’m so glad you liked it. I changed the picture because the beach one was just too cliche for me haha ;)

      I think communication when you disagree with someone is the hardest thing. The best way is to breath and take time and not rush what you need to say. Thw more you focus on what you need to communicate instead of just ‘winning’, the easier it is to express your thoughts sincerely and powerfully.

      Thanks so much again for inspiring the piece. Bisous.

      Stephen x

  19. Angela says:

    Hi Stephen,

    “The power of saying what you really feel״….

    When we are to tell what we really feel ,to others, we should ask the question, “is this helpful or harmful”?
    I personally think that BECAUSE words have so much power, we have to take responsibility of what comes out of our mouth and think twice״ before we speak.

    Only when we have to say good things….we should be spontaneous like children

    I loved your article ,point 4 especially! And point 2 very helpful!

    Best
    Angela

  20. Barbara says:

    Very good points!

    A problem, or rather two, I have is that

    1: I’m a pretty damn good liar. I can do it spontaniously and without actually lying (not that I’m using it often, I’ve got my honour)
    Tiptoeing around the problem or emphasizing a minor point while only mentioning the actual main point by the way.

    2: I avoid talking about my personal issues in general.

    I don’t have approval or any of that in mind, it just
    doesn’t feel right and I feel I should handle it myself.

    So I usually cover up my own issues or problems, which isn’t really the healthiest thing to do. Then again, 90%+ of them are something my friends simply cannot help me with (and overwhelm most people, of my age anyways) or are “high class” problems which annoy them rather than anything else.

    I’m not sure what to do about that, but I suppose it comes down to making yourself vulnerable?
    Shrugging anything off can be quite a useful thing for those who have no good intentions for you, but not for the friendly ones, eh ..

    Sorry for ranting off like that. It’s something I have to continue to work on, I’ve reduced 1 drastically in the last few years, but I’m more open to new people than close friends..
    It’s odd.

    • Barbara says:

      Whoopsie. That was all rather negative. Better than struggling with positive communication, if you ask me.

      I find 3. most useful, because when you are specific, you automatically avoid cliché. And let’s be honest, we always hear (and give, I admit) generalized compliments

    • Stephen Hussey says:

      I think it doesn’t always matter if friends can’t immediately solve your problems. You don’t have to dwell on them, you can just say what you’re honestly thinking and then move on to something else. There is a way to say something negative without making the atmosphere negative (i.e. you can just say how you plan to solve it, or you just say it without lingering too long in that place). People don’t mind hearing negative things, what they really find it hard to be around is a consistently negative presence, which can become draining. But that doesn’t mean you should deny the negative things that exist in order to protect people.

      Thanks for your thoughts Barbara.

      Stephen x

  21. Kim says:

    These advices are so very true and important….I’m in a phase in my life where I’m working to develop my authentic me, and also how to express myself. That’s why I think this article was so interesting…When I look back, I think my fear of hurting people has affected my way of communication and thereby I’ve expressed myself in a vague way. But I got more and more frustrated over this, because I felt this was so unfair to myself, and now instead I’m trying to…as I think you so well described the mindset: “having a child-like attitude”. Though when I do it I still struggle sometimes with the fear of sounding too hard…but I think it’s just because I’m not yet used to it. Thanks for a very good article, I look forward to more and following you on Twitter//Kim

    • Stephen Hussey says:

      That’s awesome Kim. Keep practicing, just stretch yourself a little further each time and eventually it will feel natural to you.

      Thanks, Stephen x

  22. Simona says:

    Hi!
    Nowadays rarely do we expect honesty from others. Most of the time we are afraid of betrayal. We don’t see the point in telling the truth if we can’t expect it from the others. However, it is my firm belief that we don’t have to make much effort to say what we honestly feel. It should be natural and regardless of the response to it. And yet the advice seems helpful! :)
    Thank you!

  23. Jen says:

    Steve,

    Thank you for the great advice and insight about how to communicate honestly! Continue writing… love the articles!

    Jen

  24. Vikki says:

    Hi Steve – excellent points and I will practice them more.

    Additionally, I think we should say what we are thinking/feeling in the moment without an expectation of the response we want to get back. Which builds on your point 4.

    Often when we communicate a “feeling” to a partner we are looking for the reassurance of them responding with an out pouring of their feelings or at least a “me too”. Personally I dislike the “me too” response as it feels like a conditioned response … along the lines of how we respond to requests that have the word “please” in them. Which is beside the point – my point is we should express our feelings/ thoughts because we want to communicate them to the other rather than because we are looking for them to communicate theirs back to us.

    I shall stop blethering now ;-)

    • Stephen Hussey says:

      I love that Vikki, amazing points. That’s exactly it – not trying to just seek out the “me too” response every time. Thanks so much for raising this.

      Stephen x

  25. Paula says:

    I have mental illness in my family, particularly schizophrenia. Mental illness is a very serious subject and I suggest you edit this piece as you use the expression ‘unhinged schizophrenic’. It is inappropriate to use such language and it is truly ignorant when people use expressions like that and have no idea what that mental illness is like. That illness should not be utilized trivially. We do not make fun of cancer like that so why should we make fun of mental illness?

    Thanks

    • Stephen Hussey says:

      You’re right Paula. Usually I don’t think offending on its own is a reason to edit a piece, but in this case, I agree with you: it was an unnecessary and silly line and I apologise for trivialising. Removed.

      Thanks, Stephen x

  26. Marycay says:

    Hello Steve,
    I really loved this article as I always love to express my feelings to the people I take care about, but sometimes with some people you always get that awkward look!
    I said to a very close friend :” i had so much fun riding the motorbike with you, I love you”. And he hugged me and replied “thank you”.
    I was expecting his “I love you too” but nope… What i did wrong?
    Thanks for your reply.
    Hugs

    • Stephen Hussey says:

      Hey Marycay, Thanks so much for your kind comments. Like I said in point 4, I think it’s about leading with what you want to express, just because you want to say it, rather than communicating because we are looking for a desired response. He might just not be ready to say that himself yet. All the best, Steve x

      • GEETIKA TYAGI says:

        Well I don’t know if commenting on this post is relevant to this blog but I have a question; what if you’ve recently starting seeing a man it’s just been close to four weeks now and he has just turned 30 last week. He is five years older to me and he has sorta starting pulling away already. I mean he would text really less during the week and we’d meet once a week for couple of hours and it’s absolutely amazing, we laugh a lot and we talk about a lot of stuff when we are together but then it’s like he is shut off when he is back home. I want more attention from him during the week and I’d like it if he asks me about my whereabouts and stuff at work but he doesn’t unless I text. He’d casually text during the week once and that’s about it. I feel we are already losing the connection with so much so as less communication. I tried to bring up the topic on his birthday later when he was about to leave but he sorta said I like going out with you and I would love to take you to places that I’ve in mind but let’s just enjoy this moment and the next moment will be better. Let’s keep the serious stuff for later. How do I communicate this to him that it’s still bothering me that we talk really less and meet just once a week. Am I expecting too much just in the beginning? It will be four weeks that we are seeing each other in four days. I just feel that in the beginning it’s not supposed to be like this? I am sorry for stretching and writing an essay here. I’d really like your opinion on this and would like to know how to communicate what I’m feeling.

        Thanks,
        Geetika

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