Are You Being Too Direct?

When you interact with your co-workers, you probably find yourself wishing that some people would just get to the point. You might also feel that some people give you the point and nothing but the point. Sure, you get the information you need, but sometimes that’s not enough.

In a situation where you must influence something or someone, as in selling a product or a point of view, being too direct can be a problem.

Most speakers don’t win over their audiences with just the cold, hard facts. Truly connecting with your audience is what will make them want to keep listening and coming back for more. That doesn’t mean you have to make small talk, but you should sound like you care – about your communication and about them.

That connection is going to be different for different people. Some speakers are naturally chatty, while others tend to stick to the bare bones of whatever they have to say. Don’t fight your instincts to sound like something you’re not. Think about what you look and sound like to other people, and how you might hit that sweet-spot – being direct without sounding brusque or rude.

So what is the best way to keep your communication from being too direct without straying too far in the opposite direction? Two principles to keep in mind are clarity and charity.

  • Clarity: To the undiscerning, it’s easy to think that being clear is the same as being blunt, but that doesn’t have to be the case. If you tend to err on the side of being muddled, take a moment while planning your talk to determine if what you’re saying is relevant to your point and your listeners.  If not, it’s going to take your communication in the wrong direction. Remember, you can always take a quick pause to center yourself when you’re talking – it’s better than babbling!
  • Charity: You don’t have to go full Oprah to be generous with your audience. Give them the benefit of empathy. Put yourself in a listener’s shoes as you decide what to say, what to leave out, and even what to add to make sure your audience feels the (workplace appropriate) love.

There’s nothing wrong with being direct – as long as you remember that your audience members are people, too!