What You NEED To Hear Versus What You WANT to Hear

As a motivational speaker, I’m in the business of giving advice, which isn’t that different considering there are a lot of people out there giving advice – it’s just that some aren’t paid for it – or even asked for it. When I’m asked for advice, I always find myself asking if I should say what they need to hear or what they want to hear. Because some people aren’t coming to me wanting to know what I really think – they are coming to me so I will affirm what they already think. I believe a true friend tells you what you need to hear, wrapped in love and grace that makes it easier to swallow. And when I ask for advice, I try to be brave enough to ask for the real truth.

So I’m now asking you – when you ask for advice, are you asking for the honest truth? And are you brave enough to hear it? Do you listen and apply? Or do you discount because it wasn’t what you wanted to hear? When you give advice do you give your real advice, or do you tell them what they want to hear? Are you afraid that telling the truth is mean?  And if you tell them the truth, do you tell them with love and grace?

I’m all about being kind and motivating others. But I also think that there are times when we need to speak the truth with boldness and with kindness. And these conversations are hard to have because we want to be liked. But sometimes the kindest thing you can do won’t feel like the nicest thing to do.

It’s a fine line. And I pray for the wisdom to know when it’s time to have that tough conversation, and how to wrap it when I do.



Motivational Speaker Kelly Swanson - called one of North Carolina's funniest women by Our State Magazine. Kelly lifts the spirits of audiences from coast-to-coast using humor, storytelling, and lives of the characters from Prides Hollow - Kelly's make believe small town. This unique approach to motivational speaking allows Kelly to break through communications barriers and connect directly to the audience's imagination.
Her powerful stories and wacky wit will make you laugh, remind you that you matter, show you how to see beyond your obstacles, and teach you how to stand up and stick out in a crowded market.
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  1. I’m all about giving an honest answer to a question. My thinking is: “if you don’t want my honest opinion, why are you asking me?”. However, you make a great point with the “love and grace” way of giving people the hard truths. Perhaps this needs to become a part of a motivational speech.

  2. Great blog Kelly — thanks for shining a timely light on this! In these conversations, I’m on the lookout for what mood the conversation evokes and whether it opens up or closes possibilities for the person I’m speaking to. I’ve discovered (the hard way) that the right conversation in the wrong mood is the wrong conversation. When asked what I really think, my challenge is often to bring forth the right presence, the right mood and the right words that will help reveal possibilities that are aligned with whatever it is that the person claims to care about or be committed to… whilst taking care of both of our identity and dignity… as opposed to (as I’ve been known to do on occasion) allow myself to get hooked into my solutions/answers/version of what I think the person needs to hear.

    Gotta go have one of these conversations…  

  3. Nicely stated, Kelly.  I agree with Bill that if someone asks for my honest opinion they will get it.  I sometimes feel my heart go to my throat because, like you said, these moments are hard because we want to be liked.  I will pay more heed to the love and grace part of the delivery next time.  And your blog reminds me to be brave enough to ask others opinions of me more often.  Thank you for your wonderful insight!

  4. This motivational speaker’s website is SpeakYourTruth.com so you know I’m in alignment with this post! And yes, there is a big difference between speaking your mind and speaking your truth. Speaking your truth is done with grace, love and tact. There is always a gentle way to deliver feedback that allows someone to truly hear the message. Staying open to hearing the truth from others (ourselves included) is the only way we truly grow. Thanks for sharing such a great message.

  5. I can vouch for both you and Colette that you come from a place of love and grace and tact.  More people need to practice this for sure!  I might add my two cents – I tell Yves all the time; ‘timing and tone’.  If your timing or tone is off, it’s a whole other conversation!  

  6. Yes, Kelly, great post.  This seems to be an issue for a lot of people – especially the part about where they don’t really want your opinion – they want affirmation that you agree with them.  And if I may “own my stuff” here – this has always been a big one for me.  But then when I think about what you said, I am MUCH better at hearing something that differs from what I think when it is said with more of that “love and grace” that you spoke about.


  1. […] So – considering that Little Miss Lindalarsen.com is very much like a baby to me, would you give me your fabulous feedback – remembering Kelly Swanson’s advise on wrapping it with love and grace! […]

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