Tuesday, September 25, 2012

When "Direct" is Needed

Odds are you've heard people described as "too direct" far more often than you've heard ones labeled "too indirect."

After all, the "too direct" can cause problems due to their lack of tact or sensitivity. They blurt out thoughts that should be restrained. They hurt feelings. They may be more numerous than their indirect cousins, if only because many of us slip into their mode.

But what of those who are locked into being too indirect? Their filters are so thick that their words require a special device to calibrate their meaning. When they say something is "Not bad," they mean it's terrible. They damn with faint praise. They don't want to explain; they want to be read, and many of us lack their dictionary.

The Too Indirect are disasters when supervising those who are ultra-direct because faint and gentle supervisory signals go drifting into the cosmos. The practitioners of subtle don't realize that the folks who practice extreme directness don't take hints and aren't in the market for nuance. They want the message without the bark on. If you haven't told them directly, you haven't told them.

Both styles are needed, of course, but I suspect that those of us who take pride in our diplomatic skills know, deep inside, that we could use a few classes in Advanced Directness.

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