How to Speak Your Values Without Judgment

What’s more important to you: to be right or to be kind? Do you feel you have the freedom to say what you really think? Or do you struggle to avoid hurting or disappointing the people close to you? Managing others’ expectations in order to avoid conflict is something many of us do every day; and I’m sorry to say, those questions just never get any easier. We may think that by telling people what they want to hear we are making them happy. But the truth is, living life this way only causes us to feel inauthentic—like we don’t fit into our own skin. So, how do you speak your values without judgement?

Values and Identity

Years ago, when I first went vegan, I struggled to be authentic about my lifestyle with my family. Turning down turkey at Thanksgiving felt like I was seriously going against the grain of my all-American upbringing and I struggled to find ways to explain to my mother why I was more a fan of the green beans.

Related: 6 Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes

See, value-based lifestyle changes like going vegan or choosing not to buy unsustainable goods actually become a very important part of our identity. Terms like “plant-based,” “believer,” “pacifis,” or “humanist” grow to be more than words that describe the way we eat, worship or live our lives; they become who we are.

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I grew up fearful of living a life that didn’t line up with the way everyone was living around me. And over time, that fear led me to pursue goals and expectations that really didn’t fit who I was at all. I’m guessing many of you have experienced similar pressures, unintentional or otherwise.

Then, I stopped trying to please; and I started living more authentically, communicating my values with grace and clarity, not fear or flattery.

Speaking Your Truth with Love

Living a life based on others’ expectations will only cause you to feel helpless and inauthentic. But living a life staunchly in rebellion isn’t much better. So, how do you express your values and opinions freely without sounding like you’re passing judgement? Here are some ideas:

Start with empathy. 

To my grandmother, gently turning down turkey at Thanksgiving probably felt more like me refusing her hospitality than “me doing me.” Rather than operating from a purely fact-based standpoint (for example: “I’m uncomfortable eating a sentient being”), start with empathy (for example, “I am so thankful for your hard work preparing this, but I am happier not eating meat. Besides, the potatoes look delicious! I look forward to enjoying those.”).

Lead by example.

Stop shopping at H&M because of their bent toward cheap, unsustainable clothing? Don’t start blabbering on about the detriments of fast fashion when your little sister wants to go shopping at that retailer. Instead, live by example and shop at retailers you think are more sustainable, conscious and ethical. Get a compliment? This could be a great opportunity to discuss why you chose the garment that you did. Over time, the people around you may follow suit.

Keep an open mind.

Sometimes our values are pretty clear cut (i.e. stealing from another person is a no-go), but a lot of the time values are up to interpretation. You may feel that eating meat is harmful to the planet and choose to live a vegetarian lifestyle. Others may feel that eating meat is harmful to the planet, but choose to eat local, sustainable meat options rather than farmed options as a solution the problem.

Use phrases like:

- I notice that you… – Here’s how I’m feeling, what are you feeling? – What do you mean by… – I want to understand where you’re coming from. Can you tell me more about… – Are you open to hearing about…

Educate with love.

No matter what, if you have an opportunity to educate, always begin with love. No one wants to listen to you when you’re on a soap box. However, they may be more inclined to hear if you educate with love and understanding. It’s not what you say to others; it’s the manner in which you say it that really matters.

How do you speak your values with love? Any guidance for the group?

82 comments

Patrice Z
Patrice Z18 days ago

We all need to work on our communication skills. Thanks for some suggestions on how to improve them.

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Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill29 days ago

Many liberals need to learn this. When stating my conservative views, I have been attacked and called names. I never do either.

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Ellie M
Ellie Mabout a month ago

ty

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Danii P
Danii Pabout a month ago

Thank you for sharing

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Paulo R
Paulo Rabout a month ago

ty

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Paulo R
Paulo Rabout a month ago

ty

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Veronica D
Veronica Danie1 months ago

Thank you so very much.

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Veronica D
Veronica Danie1 months ago

Thank you so very much.

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Veronica D
Veronica Danie1 months ago

Thank you so very much.

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Danii P
Danii P1 months ago

Thank you

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