Wednesday, November 11, 2015

How Blunt? Or How Tactful?

Recently I had a work situation where a senior person was very blunt with me. Blunt in a positive way about a situation I was dealing with. Words were used that I had not used myself, but I had been thinking. 

It got me thinking about how we and how I say things to get the point across. Numerous times when I was younger I was accused of having little tact, that is sharing a little too much information or being very blunt with a person. I felt that it was something for me to work on. Working with Asians the past several years I have really been able to exercise my indirect communication skills. It is a perpetual challenge, how do you say things as they are, and at the same time be positive and uplifting to the team?

I don't have the solution for this. Communication is always hard. However it is well known that by encouraging positive behavior you get better results than punishing negative behavior. Both have a place of course, punishment still needs to exist on some level. Yet in my quest to accentuate the positive, I might have gone so far as to be so indirect with the negative that only I realized the specific incident I was talking about. When you get so indirect that no one else knows what you are specifically talking about you have gone too far. 

In other words, you can't just call someone a liar and expect your relationship with that person to improve anytime soon. A moderately direct response might be, "you did not send me that email." A less direct response would be, "could you resend that email I can't find it." The least direct response would be, "I am not familiar with that information, could you send me some documentation." The final response does not directly address an email, which pleads ignorance about the whole situation. Of course, if the conversation is about an email, it would be okay to mention it specifically. So how direct one is is always a challenge. Again, I don't have the answer. The funny thing is, I have gotten so used to being vague on my blog that at least in one instance that vagueness carried over into work. 

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