In Australia, we have a saying that goes “call a spade, a spade”. Shovels versus spades – there’s a difference so don’t mince your words. It also means don’t piss in my pocket, don’t beat around the bush and certainly don’t talk in circles and try to make it sound different to what it is. Be direct and be honest with me so we can all get on with life.
When communicating with others there’s a fine line when trying to get our point across and being seen as a refreshing pragmatist and being seen as a big prick. Much like comedy, it’s all in the delivery and the context.
Some people choose to play the nice guy/girl and be all cushiony not wanting to hurt feelings which feels nice but it’s pretty much fence sitting. Others try to sound important by being waffly and not addressing the point. Others use a positive reinforcement/correction method but can be easily blurred into ‘constructive feedback’ and some will just smash through your window like a house brick and move on without regard for your feelings.
Sure you can say ‘you’re fat’ but unless the context is right, you’re probably just going to upset someone. You can still get your point across and even empower them if you first understand their perspective of the content (being fat) then knowing how to change their relationship to it so it lands in a positive manner. This is how you change the context and ultimately influence others.
Different people respond to different types of communication and from different sources. Your doctor versus your partner versus some guy at the traffic lights calling you fat will all land differently in your mind. One may shock you into change, one may hurt you and the other may make you think – yeah, like you can talk mate.
It’s the same content but your relationship (and theirs) to it is different depending on the circumstance.
In business, people value time/money/efficiency. So if you’re someone that doesn’t know your stuff, waffles on, charges for chit chat and doesn’t answer the questions of your customers, chances are you’ll go broke.
If you’re my friend however and you don’t have the ability to waffle, chit chat and then think you know it all, chances are you’ll be a loner and depicted as a toolbox. (Australian slang for a loser).
So how do you call a spade a spade and get the context right every time? Easy, do this:
1) Understand what it is they are looking for in you – understand and interpret their expectations
2) Become masterful and understanding the world through their eyes – listen to and really read them
3) Create a mental diagram of where they want to go, where you want to go and find the path of least resistance
4) Openly offer them your proposed path and set/reset their expectations
5) Be the chameleon and adapt your language. If they are wafflers then waffle. If they are succinct, be succinct.
6) Congruence = perceived value, compatibility, confidence and high fives
It’s really not that hard to call a spade, spade and have people be happy for your contribution. Just understand the content from all perspectives to get the context right and offer them the path of least resistance that suits you both. It’s all sunshine, lollipops and rainbows from there.