In a world where communication happens in so many different formats and on so many different platforms, which is better: direct communication or proper business dialogue?
Which do you prefer? Do you believe direct communication is rude? Or do you lean toward the other camp?
I happen to be a direct communicator. I never use 30 words if ten will get the message across. I must stop myself when responding to emails and remember to format them correctly with a greeting (ugh, why? So many more words than needed!), a main message, and a proper salutation at the end. This makes me crazy. I might be in the middle of a message and find myself going back and editing it for proper email etiquette.
I am sure this is considered rude in many circles – but, for a moment, consider my side in this. I need a communication from you and you bury the information that I so desperately need in the middle of 300 other words, and now I must digest all of this just to find the information I want.
Maybe I am just ahead of my time. Maybe today’s communicators are getting briefer (clasping my hands in prayer), and getting to the point more quickly. But if this is true, how will it change the way we do business? Will it change your performance? Can you adapt?
To properly structure a written response in a business setting, there are hard-and-fast rules – and boy, are they wordy. But how about in a phone conversation or (gasp) a face-to-face encounter? Are you comfortable with direct communication in these settings? Or do you prefer the indirect approach?
Studies suggest that direct communicators are top performers. In this article, we discover just how important clear and direct communication is.
If you have a different communication style, are you comfortable working for or with someone who is a direct communicator?
I have personally had the pleasure of winning people over to my style of communication.
I was working as the social media manager for a dealership, and there an offsite workshop with the entire leadership team. This was my first year at the dealership, and at the workshop we were asked to go around the table and name one thing that each manager added to the team and one thing that detracted from it. It was a tough exercise. We were being asked to find fault in our fellow managers and to share it with the entire team in a way that would not cause strife and encourage growth.
When it came time for the other managers to speak about me, over and over I heard, “Robin is a direct communicator” and “Robin speaks her mind”. Oddly, my directness was cited as both a good thing and a bad thing!
So it was good that I was a direct communicator, but it was also bad. Remember, this was year one of working in a dealership. A DEALERSHIP, not a dress boutique. You would think in a male-dominated industry this would be not just accepted, but welcome.
Fast forward to year two. Manager offsite. Picture it: all the same managers are sitting around the same table, performing the same exercise. But this year I am not hearing what a direct communicator I am. This year I am hearing some very constructive criticism – but the only thing I hear is how my communication style has changed. Really? I am 53 years old, and there is little chance that I was changing. Maybe they had just adapted to my direct communication style. Maybe, in the dealership’s super-busy environment, they had discovered that direct communication was more efficient way to transfer information. Or maybe they just liked me better and the way I spoke wasn’t offensive to them anymore. Who knows?
What I do know is that it came to be expected and trusted. My co-managers knew I would answer them in the best, most efficient way possible. This made it easy to reach out to me for help and for me to find solutions for them.
I am not saying direct communication is best for everyone. It is not an easy mode of communication. I know you may think it is, but direct communicators are constantly self-editing before they speak to determine how direct you can handle. I think passive communication is a much easier path, it is less “in your face” and much more welcomed in society.
In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell covers the hierarchy of communication and the sometimes-catastrophic outcomes of different styles on industries such as the airline industry. He cites studies from Korean Air. See summary here.
Winner, Kathryn. “Outliers Chapter 7: The Ethnic Theory of Plane Crashes.” LitCharts. LitCharts LLC, 21 Jul 2015. Web. 27 Sep 2017.
The direct communication that must happen between an air traffic controller and a pilot and/or flight crew is crucial to a safe flight and an uneventful landing. I think you’ll enjoy the book and the insights it offers.
I would love to hear from you on this matter. Drop me a note and let me know how direct communication styles have affected you and your work environment.
Robin Wilson is the co-owner of Social Climber Pro and SCP Auto.
She is a self-proclaimed social media guru and specializes in social marketing for auto dealerships. She has also been instrumental in teaching auto dealerships how to market through social media to their existing database and shows them how to make sure that they do not become victims of conquest marketing. She is a marketing coach to all and has become a leader in Facebook marketing strategies in the U.S.