The Subtle Art of Being Blunt

38886346 - portrait of a pretty businesswoman yelling over the megaphoneThere are many skills needed to navigate the workplace in today’s society. You know about hard skills like budgeting and writing and soft skills like customer service and teamwork, but have you ever thought of the skills that you are born with? Skills and personality traits that come naturally to some folks, but are surprisingly absent from others? You know charisma, creativity, common sense, etc.

I was lucky enough to be born with the subtle art of being blunt. I was also “lucky” enough to be born with “RBF”, but that’s a whole other story…

If you were not born with the ability to be blunt, it can be a very delicate and tricky art to master. But in many cases, it can be extremely helpful in the workplace, as well as in one’s personal life. Let me be clear, being direct by no means gives you the right to be rude or inappropriate, rather it is a tactful way of letting someone know how you feel or explaining a situation without sugar coating or giving a false impression. There should be a clear distinction!

In the workplace, it can be used as a power tool, from hiring and firing to managing expectations, and even during the most difficult customer service situations. If done correctly, being blunt can eliminate confusion, prevent any unnecessary expectations, and settle issues in a timely manner.

A few key things to remember when practicing your bluntness:

•   Always make sure you understand the situation you are dealing with. If you are wrong when being straightforward, you will sound like a jerk. There is no escaping it.
•   Be constructive and comment on the situation at hand, NEVER on an individual or group of individuals. Being blunt means being forthright in your opinion. Just because you are being honest and upfront doesn’t mean you have to give your complete opinion. If you can’t say anything nice… don’t say anything at all. Well, how about you just don’t say anything stupid?
•   Don’t yell or raise your voice. Depending on the situation, you may become heated. When being direct, remain calm or at least act that way and keep your voice at a mild tone.

Being blunt may upset people whether it comes naturally to you or if you are trying it for the first time. If you are someone who is worried about ruffling feathers or upsetting someone, being blunt may not be for you. And that is ok! The most important thing is to make sure you are clearly conveying your message, be it candid or subtle. Make sure the lines of communication are open and that both parties understand the situation.

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Author: Niki Tourscher

Director of Training and Get Outdoors PA

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