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Direct Communication Vs. Gentle Communication

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When we communicate with other humans, we lay the framework for how healthy, positive, and constructive those relationships will be.

Here’s the thing, though. 

Unhealthy relationships can be very taxing, stressful, and negative. 

And they can also be bad for our overall health and wellness. 

This is why it is so important to make sure that you’re fostering helpful, productive communication with the people in your life.

But there’s also a big question to ask in the midst of this:

Is straightforward communication always the best approach? Or is it better to always try to approach a topic with a more roundabout and gentler path to the goal in mind, even if that path isn’t necessarily so straightforward? 

This is a really good question. And it deserves a bit of careful consideration. 

The problem with very straightforward communication is that it can sometimes come off as being abrupt, rude, or conflict-oriented.

And to be honest, not everyone in our world is accustomed to actual direct, zero fluff, straightforward communication.

And to the person who’s not accustomed to it, it can definitely feel more like an attack.

But here’s another thing to consider.

The more ‘careful’ we are with how we get to the goal of our communication, the less straightforward we tend to be.

Sometimes, avoiding any hint of rudeness or conflict requires a significant amount of ‘word padding.’ 

And this comes with its own risks. 

The further we stray outside of the boundary of the straightforward line of direct communication, the more risk we run of either being misunderstood, misunderstanding the other person, or just in general failing to convey the entire point of the communication at all. 

With all of that being said, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that in some cases, it’s better to be straightforward—while in other cases, it’s better to communicate with an agenda that favors tactfulness over directness.

The key, really, is to try to read the other person to the best of our ability, and to take into account the context of the communication overall

Is this person’s communication style better suited to straightforwardness, or are they better suited to a ‘gentler’ communication strategy? 

Is this the type of person who may get their feelings hurt if you come right out and say what you think? 

Or is this the type of person who would actually appreciate such a direct communication style? 

Different situations can add even more variables to this question. 

Communicating about a sensitive topic may require a different strategy than you would use to communicate about a topic that isn’t really personal or sensitive at all

For example:

Being direct about a person’s lackluster work performance is quite a different ordeal than being direct about the type of sandwich you prefer when you go to lunch. 

That’s not to say that one of those situations deserves less directness than the other. 

It just goes to say that humans are all different, and that our different unique personalities make us diverse in how we accept, assimilate, and unpack information. 

At the end of the day, the goal is simply this…

To be as direct, straightforward, respectful, and kind as possible, while also trying to stay true to the underlying truth of why the communication was required to begin with.

Being straightforward is efficient and saves time. 

However, if you can make your delivery just a little bit gentler by adding a few additional nuances… Well, it may be even better for it.

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