I grew up surrounded by strong-minded and candid people. The women were all powerful, bossy, well-educated leaders. My incredible nannies and housekeepers also shared these same traits. Laziness wasn’t part of our vernacular, nor was any indirect attitude a common trait. I naturally adopted these characteristics, as well as the importance of being compassionate, but kept my strong sense of play.
So, getting to the title of this blog, what is an indirect attitude and how does one act direct and yet also compassionate? Or better yet, why should one be both candid and compassionate?
To me, you know you give off an indirect attitude if people are often saying to you “I am not sure what you mean,” or ”What are you trying to say?” or “I really don’t understand you.” You know you have a direct attitude if people are often saying “Yes, I totally understand you,” or “You say it as it is,” or “You are as clear as day,” or “I always know what you mean.”
How many times have you been in this situation: you think you understand what someone is saying, but a little red flag tells you that you might not be too sure. You ignore it for a bit, but down the road your flag was correct and you realized you’d wasted a lot of time, energy and in many cases, money. I found some years ago that there was no point in blaming that indirect person, as it really was up to me to feel secure and clear enough myself to ask the following type of questions:
So, what I think you are saying is [hypothetical]
- You definitely need someone like myself and my company to work with your successful and fast growing for-profit company
- You’d like to begin as soon as possible
- You’d like a proposal end of the week with a phased budget plan included.
Is that correct?
II. Oh, it isn’t correct. Well, tell me again and let’s get on the same page.
So, now that you’ve re-explained, is this what I heard you say?
- You want to work with my company
- But, you have no money to pay my company.
- And yet, in a few months time you definitely will have the money and would like my company to work for free until you can pay us, and you’ll pay 25% extra for this contingency?
Is that now correct?
Good. We are now clear, and whilst I appreciate you wishing to work with us, this proposal of yours will not work for my company. When you are at a point where you can pay as we are always paid, please don’t hesitate to call us.
I feel it is not up to us to try and change or fully understand a stranger. There are over 6 billion of us and that could take several frustrating lifetimes. However, I do think it is up to us to hear well and be alert when we are in the presence of an indirect person. We must realize what information we need and which questions we need to ask them to get those answers. In short, if we always follow the direct path we can deal with indirect people head-on. In the case above, as CEO of a company, I needed to hear if this was a true and viable client/partner, and I didn’t have time to waste with all the potentially misleading ‘congratulatory chit chat.’ Therefore I had to ask in a compassionate, yet very direct way to learn what their intentions were. I didn’t need to judge this potential client as I don’t know their full story, but I did know what we needed from each other. He appreciated my candor and, from there, could develop a more honest professional relationship. Perhaps my candor taught him something, and perhaps it didn’t. All I know is I follow a direct path, and when I forget to be, I always find myself going down a path of six feet deep molasses.
If I forget to be compassionate I also find myself treading water. For example, the second part above could have gone like this:
Myself: OK – I’ve heard your tale and you are full of BS. Please don’t call me again. You are not being candid.
90 days later the man does have the funds but why on earth would he contact me? Or even if I don’t care about him ever being a client, why would I need to be so rude? Where would that get me? Or him? Even if it doesn’t work out as you would have hoped, I feel leaving a clean footprint is often the best way to go.
One may ask how this ties into my CQ theory. Well, again if I am defining CQ as receptive and expressive intelligence, the above is a direct example of this.
You may also ask how this might this tie into Social Media? Again, if we don’t think what we really want to say (our point of view – POV) before we tweet or blog or comment. What is our intention? What are we expecting from it? Are we being clear?
What is your story about being both candid and compassionate?
Have a good night,