The Fine Balance Between Frank and Brash

On a recent poll, about seventy percent  of small business owners have gauged themselves as ‘above average’ communicators.

With the outstanding poll results, the first thing that comes to my mind is what really constitutes being a good communicator? With the mentioned poll, I believe that the small business owners assessed themselves by referring to how well they get the message across via speaking and writing. At least that’s the way I understood the polling.

I’ve pondered on this poll result for quite a few days and I’ve gotten to a realization the someone who masterfully crafts words can still be deemed a bad communicator. How is that possible, you might ask? It can be done by the habit of not meaning what they say; and vice-versa.

Were we ever guilty of this? Let’s see if these examples can freshen up our memory.  If someone asks, “Do you mind,” but we really do mind, yet we still say “No, not at all.” Isn’t that a not-so-good way to communicate? Another example is when someone asks “How are you,” but we’re not really well, but we still reply, “I’m fine.” Some underlying reasons why we do this can include us not asserting ourselves or us trying to not to offend or upset someone. We somehow use this technique to influence others into leaving us be.

More often than not, this habit occurs when we’re upset. This strategy of us trying to influence others  is not really that helpful because, most of the time, our pent up feelings manifest themselves through other means anyway. Moreover, what makes it more baffling to the people around us is that if they take it as it is, then they’re wrong. On the contrary, if they recognize that we’re not really meaning what we say, then they wouldn’t be able to guess what we exactly mean.

Saying things as-they-are is quite difficult when we’re trained to follow etiquette and exhibit proper manners at all times. We were always told that it is impolite to give a ‘hard no’ as an answer; but it’s equally impolite to say “yes,” “not at all,” or “I’m fine,” even when we don’t really mean it.

So the next time a customer says “I understand that I haven’t paid you for the last project yet, but would you like to discuss a new one?” Let’s not just nod and say “Alright,” then do slipshod work because of demotivation. We can tell them right away that it’s not part of company policy, but we’d be more than happy to hear from them once the balance has been cleared.

There exists such a fine balance between being frank and being tactless. If we can find this balance, and capitalize on it every time we communicate, then definitely we can give ourselves a pat on the back for being such good communicators.

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