Hone Your Skills

Directness In The Workplace: Why You Should Use Direct Speech

March 3, 2022
5 Min Read

Speaking in a direct and straightforward way can help you navigate the workplace in a more confident, productive way. Direct speech is important because it helps you to be clear about what you need and helps your colleagues and managers understand what you need and expect from them.

It can be hard to practice direct speech when we're used to being indirect. You might have thoughts like, "What if I sound mean?" or, "What if I come across as demanding?" or "I don't want to sound like a know-it-all."

In reality, though, being straightforward doesn't mean that you have to be harsh or that the people around you will think less of you. They'll appreciate your being direct because it eliminates unnecessary guessing games and makes communication much clearer for everyone involved.

Directness is a Good Quality

Directness is considered a great quality in the workplace. People who are direct in the workplace are regarded by their colleagues as mature and confident. This is because they're able to communicate clearly, without wasting time or energy on beating around the bush.

Indirect communication, by contrast, can make you appear uncertain or passive, which does not inspire confidence in your colleagues. You will be more respected and trusted if you say what you mean instead of hiding behind obscure language.

For example, if your boss asks you to do something and you have reservations about it, a direct response would be something like: “I can do that but I'm concerned that it might cause problems with X” whereas an indirect response could be something like: “I can maybe do that, I’ll give it a go.” Your boss will appreciate being told what you’re thinking because then they can address any concerns you have.

Direct Communication Will Be Reciprocated

Be direct with your colleagues and bosses, and they'll be direct with you.

We've all been in a situation where we're not sure how to say something to a colleague or boss. Maybe it's because we're worried about the response we'll get, or maybe it's because we don't want to admit that we were wrong or didn't understand something. The problem is, the person on the other end of the conversation can pick up on this. And when they do, they might be less inclined to give you a straight answer themselves. It becomes a vicious circle: Nobody wants to admit that they don't understand something because they're afraid of seeming stupid — but if nobody admits it in the first place, there's no way anyone can learn anything new!

So what does this mean for you? Start being more direct with people at work! If someone gives you an instruction that doesn't make sense, ask them for clarification instead of just nodding along and thinking "I'll try my best."

Directness Leads to Success

Being clear about your thoughts, feelings, interests, and intentions is good for business. Being direct will help you and the company you work for thrive.

When you’re clear about your needs, thoughts, and feeling, people are more likely to meet your expectations. And when people meet your needs and expectations in the workplace, everyone wins—you get what you need, others reach their goals by helping you and the organization reaps rewards from a productive workforce.

Being direct is both respectful and responsible in the workplace because it establishes trust by showing that you care enough to be clear about what matters to you.

Direct Communication Builds Trust

When communicating with others, you want to remove any uncertainty about what you mean. If you remain indirect and vague, your coworkers will have a difficult time understanding your message. However, when you are direct and clear, they will know where they stand with you. This makes them feel secure in their relationship with you and builds trust.

As the old adage goes: “Honesty is the best policy.” When people are direct and honest, they can be trusted to tell the whole story and let everyone know where they stand on an issue or situation.

Being Direct Does Not Equate to Being Rude

It’s important to understand the differences between being direct and being rude. Directness is frank and honest, while rudeness is aggressive and disparaging. By using direct speech, you can be clear without making your listener feel like they have to defend themselves or their ideas.

Rudeness often stems from a desire to assert dominance or superiority over another person, which can lead you down a path toward aggressive behaviors that are distinctly inappropriate for the workplace. Remember: the goal of being direct isn’t about dominating others, it’s about achieving your goals in an effective way that helps everyone involved.

How Can I Improve On Being More Direct?

If you feel like your speech is vague, don't worry — it's common for people to lose confidence in their communication skills when they're talking about complex or unfamiliar topics. When this happens, you can work on being more direct by improving your speaking voice and making your language simpler.

Certain kinds of verbal habits may contribute to the impression that you lack confidence or clarity in what you're saying. Try the following:

  • Speak up... literally! If people are having trouble hearing and understanding you, then they won't be able to focus on your message or ideas. You'll need to increase volume so that people can actually hear what you're saying, but don't shout or speak at a monotone pitch.
  • Speak in the active voice. That means that you should be speaking from your own experience and talking about your own feelings and opinions. You should also avoid generalizations and assumptions.
  • Consider context. Consider their background and how much they already know about what you're talking about. If it's their first time hearing about it, then you'll need to be more detailed, and if they know what the basics are already, then you can jump straight into the specifics.
  • Use simple language. You may think the complex language makes you sound more intelligent and sophisticated, but it actually just confuses your audience. Use simple language that won’t leave any room for confusion.

Being More Direct is Worth It!

Learning to speak directly at work will help you advance in your career.

Being direct helps you in asking for help when you need it, requesting more responsibility, or  asking for a raise when it's time for one—all of which are crucial if you want your career to advance! If you keep yourself in the background, no one will know what skills, insights, or accomplishments you have to offer, so be sure to speak up when appropriate!

Say it like you mean it.

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