How well do you resonate with others? In coaching we work with clients to find their courageous voice. We also work with client to help to build stronger connections with people who matter to them. Sometimes courage and connection can feel in conflict. Most of us tend to find one of these goals easier than the other.

Some of us are more skilled at speaking truth to power, no matter what the consequence. I’ve always tended to find the courage easier than the connection The positive of this perspective is being strong and true. At worst the can be perceived as aggressive or offensive.

Others prioritize the connection with others. They naturally make interactions comfortable, friendly and kind. At best, they lift others up and find joy in the connection. At worst, they can feel used or unseen.

In coaching training that I am attending this week, I am pondering how to show up with both intentions—connection and courage. My daughter works in retail sales. She wisely observed that she can be heard when she raises her voice more highly, and smiles. This is a gendered answer, granted—when as women do we want or need to be heard vs. assert ourselves more? Yet it also shows great self-wisdom of how to make a connection and be heard.

I am learning that connection must come first. We first need to build resonance in order to be heard. Sometimes we need to mirror others to create a connection—making our voice louder or softer. Matching the range of our intended partner builds trust. Raising our energy or speaking more slowly. With connection, we can stretch to others—to help them to grow and to hear our own authenticity. We can also listen more so that we can learn and grow as well.

Where do you naturally sit on the spectrum of connection and courage? Which direction do you need to stretch?

Written by Dr. Dana Mitra

I am a life coach at Coaching By Dana and tenured academic professor at Penn State.

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