Unless you’re already a pro at being direct, toeing the line between being assertive enough without being obnoxious can be difficult.
Here’s how to do so in a way that’s effective, but still keeps the person you’re speaking with in mind.
Stand your ground
Know your worth.
If you have trouble being direct with a particular coworker or executive who consistently questions you or seems to doubt you, it can be easy to get lost in a web of words — or, worse, harp on what you feel like you lack professionally.
That’s why it’s crucial to remember what you bring to the table while communicating your message.
You got this job for a host of reasons, and just because someone who doesn’t always listen to your ideas fails to hear you out doesn’t mean that you have nothing valuable to say.
Put yourself in the other person’s shoes
Conversations are a two-way street.
You might have a lot to get across, but be sure to examine the other person’s perspective: Where are they coming from? Does it seem like they will be more receptive to what you’re saying if you present the topic to them in a specific way? Keep topics like this in mind.
Also use the golden rule when being direct: Treat those you’re speaking to the way you’d like to be spoken to.
Choose your words carefully
Don’t smother the bad news with good news.
The “compliment sandwich” tactic isn’t always the best way to deliver feedback. Instead of dancing around what needs to be improved, be clear and respectful in saying it.
Embrace who you are, and harness it in your delivery
Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not.
A Harvard Business Review article features advice from Daniel Ames, a professor of management at Columbia Business School and author of “Pushing Up to a Point: Assertiveness and Effectiveness in Leadership and Interpersonal Dynamics,” on how to “stay true to yourself.”
“Don’t feel you have to muster interpersonal coldness to accompany your assertion. Feel free to be friendly and empathic while asking for your needs to be met,” he told the publication.
Keep the attention on you
Being overly direct during one-on-one meetings or conversations at work can seem confrontational, but keeping the person’s focus on how you’re feeling and/or what you need from them — instead of how they’re failing you in some way — can help get around that.
Citing examples, a HuffPost article mentions that you should use “I” instead of “you” when being direct.
Other featured advice includes saying significant things while face-to-face with someone (and that over the phone is in second place, voicemail is third, and that this should never be done through text message or email).
When being direct, you don’t need to cover up what you’re really trying so say — just be conscientious in the way you say it.