It took me a long time to appreciate the value of a direct communication style.
My immediate family communicates in an artful dance of nudges and nuances.
I never noticed our special language until I married my husband, who would ask me, "What are you trying to say?"
He was honestly, legitimately not sure of the meaning my series of hints were intended to convey.
At first, it felt ridiculous and uncomfortable to just state what I wanted in such plain, vivid language. It also felt a little risky. I went from dipping my toe in to test the waters to flat-out owning my viewpoint. I went from approaching a decision with the desire to please everyone to speaking my truth and pleasing...ME.
"How do hamburgers sound for dinner?" has become "We're having hamburgers for dinner".
And, over the years, I've learned that the statements phrased as questions work well when everyone understands that language. But, in the world of work they can create many who are left scratching their heads and who just want some direction.
For women, especially, the artful dance of nudges and hints is more accepted as a female communication style. But, it can undermine the confidence we portray and also lock us into a position of asking for permission vs. leading the way.
Over the years, I've found a few ways to phrase things that feel authentic to a highly empathetic leadership style, but also more clear. And, as Brené Brown says in her book Dare to Lead, "Clear is kind." Indeed...kind to self and to those we lead.
Here's a few opening lines to help you be clear with your views:
- I intend to...
- I see it a bit differently...
- I'll offer another point of view...
- Here's where we need to be by the end of this discussion...
- What does success look like to you for this meeting? How will we know we've been successful?
- Here's one way we can reach the outcome...
And, there are countless more ways to assert your thoughts, beliefs, and intelligence. Remember, if you don't speak up, and if you don't state your thoughts clearly, the team misses out on the unique value you can bring.
No one at the (metaphorical) table you're at has the experience you do. No matter your tenure or your experience, your voice/ideas/solution may be exactly what's needed to solve the problem.
Speak it clearly. Confidently. And, judge not the outcome...but rather that the contribution was offered.
And, the clearer the message...the kinder to all.