It’s no secret that I value straight talk in my professional life. There’s no better way to get across a hard truth than stating it flat out, without tiptoeing around it. I’m not saying you shouldn’t choose your words to fit the situation, but equivocating on your message and avoiding the subject at hand is only going to leave you feeling weak and frustrated.
This approach has suited me well, but it’s not something that just anyone can do. It takes a thick skin to make it in business, that’s undeniable. Having a thick skin means being able to hear the hard truths thrown back at you just as well as you can state them yourself. If you’re going to dish out the straight talk, you’ve got to be able to take it as well. Nothing will make you look smaller than lashing out when someone tells you something you don’t want to hear.
Straight talk can be a wonderful thing—I’ve been able to get to where I am thanks in part to my straightforwardness. But being overly-sensitive when someone else calls you out on a mistake or misunderstanding is a sure way to lose respect. I know I wouldn’t want to deal with someone with one set of standards for their own behavior and a different one for others. There’s a word for people who can dish out criticism but can’t take it: narcissists.
Being straightforward doesn’t mean insulting people, or saying out loud the first thing to come to your mind. It can take time, but once you’ve struck a balance between direct and tactful, your authority will only grow stronger. There’s a great word for people who can dish out the tough criticism and take it as well: leaders.