We can see the benefits of being direct; it cuts out miscommunication and makes things faster and simpler. However, there’s a fine line between being frank and being rude and abrupt.
For many, it’s a skill that takes a lifetime to master. Mainly because it often depends on how our directness will be received. We have the control, though. There are ways to keep your direct interactions polite, and there are ways to anticipate how someone will take it.
While shortcuts aren’t always advisable in life, we’ve put together four scenarios where being direct can improve your interactions. The idea is to skip past some of the mistakes and offended people and get straight to practicing being direct in situations where it can really pay off. Once you’ve felt the benefit, you’ll be looking for more areas of your life where you can get straight to the point.
Hiring a Professional
At several stages in our lives, we need help from outside sources to get a job done. This could be hiring an accountant to look after our taxes, finding a construction company to assist with home renovations, or engaging a lawyer to facilitate legal cases or claims.
The reason we go to outside sources is that we need their expertise to get the job done. To have an effective working relationship, you need to communicate your needs, but also hear their response in return to be sure that you’re on the same page. This is where being direct can be beneficial.
No matter the project, you’ll need to sit down and have a direct conversation about the outcomes, preferably before you hire someone. For example in a personal injury case, lawyers
Diamond & Diamond recommend asking direct questions about “what the end of the case may look like and how long it will take to get there.” This way, you’ll both know where you stand and can reach a decision.
Your Annual Review
One of the trickiest but most advantageous places to be direct is at work. We recommend easing yourself into this practice. Once you have your first success, you’ll become bolder and can try it in other parts of your work life.
What makes it challenging is that there might be some initial awkwardness. The benefits far outweigh that feeling, especially when it comes to your annual review. Any time you sit down with your manager to have a conversation about your performance, you can get more from it by being assertive and direct. Use simple but professional language so that your manager will get your meaning instantly.
Your performance review should be a series of statements and questions, with some narrative thrown in. It should definitely not be excuses and sentences which don’t have a clear meaning. The conversation is for you to find out how to improve, to show what you have achieved, to ask for a raise, for more support, or an interesting project.
We’ve all been part of a group, or even just two people where it seems impossible to reach an agreement and make plans. While being ambivalent or easy going can feel like it’s helping the situation, more often than not, it adds to the confusion.
The key here is to remember that being direct isn’t the opposite of compromising. That being said, a compromise can’t be reached if you haven’t expressed what you want. When everyone is tiptoeing around their needs and trying to guess what everyone else wants to do, it can be tough to get specific.
Making plans is about doing something fun and seeing other people. You are much more likely to achieve that by being direct. Think of a time and a place that would suit you and would be fun and suggest it. You don’t need to be forceful, but you’re giving people the opportunity to say yes, as well as no, which will get the ball rolling.
When Asked for Your Opinion
We have found that the best way to get better at being direct is by flexing our opinion muscles. That means being able to listen and know your own opinion on something, and then to express that out loud. It’s a tiny revelation, but the ripples can be far-reaching.
If someone asks for your opinion, it means they value what you think, and they need another perspective. Before you tell your best friend that the song they have written is amateur, you’ll need to think about the delivery. It should be direct, but it needs to have reason and value.
Unsolicited opinions can seem rude or hurtful. If someone has asked, it’s best to be direct but to think about what you want the other person to take away from your statement. There’s a difference between choosing the right words and being apologetic for your thoughts.
The more direct interactions you have, the more you’ll be in touch with your genuine self, and your thoughts and opinions. Revealing these aspects not only gets you more of what you want, but it also builds connections as you share your personality with others.