It seems that people associate being direct with being rude or mean, but direct communication doesn’t have to be either of these things!
I feel like indirect communication is a common thread amongst women. Since women are socially conditioned to not make a fuss, ruffle any feathers or have permission to speak our minds, indirect communication becomes inevitable. Or conversely, if we communicate directly, we’re often labeled in a negative manner, like bitch.
So ladies, I say it’s time to shake things up! Direct communication is not only sometimes necessary, but can be a great self-esteem builder! Every time I deal with something or someone head on, I feel more confident in myself. If you are looking for some tips to start, here’s a how-to guide for dealing with situations in a direct manner.
1. Just Say It
I often find that the moments I don’t say anything are those times when I’m so busy thinking about if I should say something, how I should say it, or preparing for that person’s reaction...that the moment passes and I lose my nerve. So instead of going back and forth in your mind about saying something, and then later feeling shitty for not speaking your mind, just say it!
2. Practice Active Listening
The hard part about being direct is always waiting for the other person's reaction, which we often spend a lot of time and mental energy gearing up for. Instead of being in automatic defense mode, say what you need to say and then let the person give you their response without forming a preconceived judgment on how they should respond. Many situations turn out to be misunderstandings, so don’t go into it with guns a-blazing only to find that the issue turned out to be not much of an issue at all.
3. Be Firm, But Not Mean
It seems that people associate being direct with being rude or mean, but direct communication doesn’t have to be either of these things! Instead, speak your mind in a calm and appropriate manner that expresses your point without pointing the finger. A great way to start is say “I feel...” and then state your feelings or opinions on the matter at hand. Don’t feel like you need to water down your thoughts with fillers and apologies. Just be mindful of what you’re saying and how you want to come across.
4. Practice In Writing
A lot of people find it easier to be confrontational in writing versus in person — just look at anyone who has ever left a harassing comment online! I guarantee you 98% of those people wouldn’t dare make those comments to that person's face. You can use this principle to your advantage to practice being direct, either by writing down what you want to say before in order to gather your thoughts or by sending someone something in writing. Just be prepared to deal with that person and situation in person after your email or text- it’s not cool to ghost someone or deal with all of your problems via your smartphone.
5. Notice, Notice, Notice!
There will probably be a lot of situations in which you think about saying something direct, but either don’t have the nerve or let the moment pass. Instead of judging yourself for those times, just notice them. Notice the types of situations you tend to handle indirectly, and formulate a game plan for the future. For instance, maybe you hate speaking to the waiter when your restaurant order comes out wrong, or you bypass the opportunity to speak up in meetings. Prepare yourself for when those moments do come around, so that you can start to handle them differently in the future.
Direct communication should be honest, first and foremost. If you speak from your heart while also being considerate of others, you’re golden!