business storytelling

When Straight Talk is Straight Up Unprofessional

straighttalk.jpgHave you ever got an email that didn’t sit quite right with you? Or read an social media update that seemed a little over the top?

Of course you have, we’ve all been there.

The awkward moment where things seem off. You feel a little creepy crawly on the inside as you think “what the what is that all about?”

For me, a common culprit of this feeling is rudeness dressed up as straight talk, especially online. It makes me all kinds of squirrelly when it happens.

Before you think I’m some sort of lightweight and need to harden up, I’m a huge proponent of being straightforward and honest.

Just ask my friends, they will tell you. None of them will ever ask me for the truth if they don’t really want to hear it because I WILL give it to you straight. I’ve actually lost friends over the years because of my inability to sugar coat things.

Straight Talk As a Cover for Being Rude

That’s in my personal life. In my professional life, I take a lot of care in what I say and when I say it. Years of working as a consultant and being paid for my opinion has taught me how to filter and prioritize my thoughts.

I still don’t pull any punches, but I think before I speak. I choose my moment. And I run everything through a filter to figure out the best way to present the information.

This is not meant to brag in any way shape or form. It’s to set the stage for what I’m about to say next.

I think that straight talk without context is just a cover for being plain old rude. Especially when we are operating without the benefit of body language, eye contact or tone of voice.

[Tweet “When straight talk is straight up unprofessional. New blog post from @magspatterson”]

Saying you are “just being honest” is an excuse for being too damn lazy to think about how to package the information properly. It signals to the world that you are so self-centred that you can’t be bothered to give a crap about other people’s feelings.

Why Having a Larger Than Life Personality Doesn’t Get You a Pass

That extra moment of thought is what separates the amateurs from the pros. Even if you have a big old personality and even more vigorous opinions, you still don’t get a pass. (At least not from me.)

Straight talk and honesty should never be an excuse (or your shtick) because it’s doing zip to elevate your brand. While I am willing to admit it works for a select few, but I think they are the exceptions that prove the rule.

Carefully calculating the most impactful way to communicate with your audience (or to your client) will fully dictate how it is received. Maybe it is a sandwich with a heaping scoop of negative between the slices of bread or a spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down.

Occasionally, you may even need to deliver the unbridled truth to get it through their skull, but only once you’ve taken the time and care to weigh out all of your options.  Then you add some context so your straight talk is way more constructive and designed to help, not hurt.

When you are stripped bare and words are all you’ve got, you simply can’t get away with being clever or subtle the same way you can when you can see the smile playing on the person’s lips or hear the teasing tone in their voice.

Don’t let your straight talk be an excuse. For the love of pete, please don’t rely on emoticons to do the job where your words should, because a smiley face doesn’t give you a pass for being a self-centred, thoughtless jerk.

[Tweet “Just “being honest” is often code for being too lazy to bother. @magspatterson explains. “]