I approach life, and dealing with people, in a direct manner. Some people, in fact, might describe me as terse or abrupt. I do not intend to be rude when interacting with others; I am just fond of getting to the point, as quickly as possible and by using as few words to do so as possible. (As an aside, my Ph.D. dissertation, considered by many academics as their crowning achievement, was a mere 43 pages long! In it, I said everything there was to be said, and nothing more.) A previous post mentioned my frustrations with people who “go around by Tampa”; this phenomenon is often referred to as “beating around the bush.” I am the polar opposite of someone who beats around the bush. I prefer to clear a path through the middle of the bush or remove the bush entirely if it impedes my movement. In my opinion, miscommunication often derives from indirect ways of saying things. People often hesitate to say what they really mean for fear of hurting someone’s feelings, or fear of retribution by an authority figure (or someone with an authoritarian personality who instills fear in other people). I am well aware of the need to be tactful when dealing with people, especially those who have low self esteem, however, I firmly believe it is in everyone’s best interests to know where they stand with me. In this way, there are no surprises caused by someone believing things are one way when they are completely the other way. Hemming and hawing, beating around the bush, and generally speaking, communicating in an indirect manner (sometimes with a passive-aggressive intent) are not for me. That’s it! Short, but not necessarily sweet.
It is interesting to observe communications styles. Melissa describes hers well, and perhaps because of her, I have learned to become more direct in the past 30 years since we met. But, it is also my experience as a photographer that trained me to be direct, to ensure that my human photographic subjects are portrayed, literally, in their best light. The poses required for people to look natural do not always feel natural and giving instructions to the subjects must be clear and succinct. But, Melissa’s larger point is more general, regardless of the scenario; make your point, as directly as possible. This ensures that everyone understands the point or question as the speaker/communicator intended. “Not beating around the bush” does not mean communicating without consideration of others’ feelings; it does not mean rudeness or insensitivity. It is getting to the point. I’ll always remember one young woman, working for us as her first “real job,” who went in circles when giving us information. We were not sure if she was making a statement, asking a question or just confused. We were confused! With coaching, she learned and gradually improved in her communication style. When people beat around the bush, attention wanes, especially in a world where 140 (Twitter) characters can start a war. Attention spans are shorter than ever, taking a long time, for example, in a presentation, is a sure way to keep the audience from understanding the point. Better to get the point, then go back, and explain, as necessary, how the conclusion was reached, or what must be known to support the point. In the reports we write for our clients, we get to the point, and we do not beat around the bush. Our attorney clients do not have the time churning through the bushes for the kernels they must take away from the reports to help their clients. We practice what we preach.