“Stop, stop, stop. You’ve bee talking for almost 2 minutes and I have no idea of what you are talking about. This is a 911 call. not a police report. What is the business problem?” That’s me doing my job, coaching technical people to speak so normal people can understand. I am blunt. I have a short amount of time with each person. I don’t want my message misinterpreted; If there is a problem that needs to be fixed, I want the person to know, this is a requirement, not a suggestion.
Typically, there are two reasons to avoid being direct, fear of confrontation or fear of embarrassment. Our ideas may be willing embraced and accepted or unleash a torrent of uncontrolled emotion we are unprepared for. It is not something we are necessarily taught. Those overtly direct people are sometimes referred to as assholes. Directness is a practice, you can try a little bit at a time.
My current role has shown me where I am often indirect. I got a text a couple of weeks ago and a phone call and a few days later realized, I’d never answered the question I was asked. In this case the fear of embarrassment and the funniest part, was the person I would typically ask for guidance was the person who’d asked the question. Then there are times when I just don’t want the confrontation and I’m ok with that. Knowing my tendencies, there are times when in the past, I would have demurred and I push. Phrases like, “in my experience…”
This week, observe your day. There are times to be nuanced and times to be direct with communications. Consider your communications. Are you getting the results you want; are you effective? In your experience, what’s going on? What might you do differently?
Add fear of retribution – the fear of telling those that sit in the corporate food chain above you what is obvious to you and others but will likely cause you harm if shared.
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Nice post, Sheila. I can totally here you with that 911 analogy! Also, your post reminded me of Therese of Radical Leadership saying to me “It’s not about being Minnesota nice, Vicki!” It’s about doing (or saying) what’s needed to make a difference – have impact. So many times I’ve seen her and others, especially trained co-active coaches, care so deeply about someone that they do whatever it takes to get their attention. Thanks for the reminder to be and respond to what’s needed, and to understand that it is variable.
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