Why Leaders are Straightforward

by | Nov 10, 2022 | Leadership

Many of us wish that we could be a little more straightforward in our communication with others. But sometimes, it’s hard to keep straightforward from coming across as rude and pushy. Or maybe it feels like your honesty might be a little too much for someone to handle. Luckily, there are tactics and strategies that you can use in your communication to be assertive without being insensitive.

Be Wise with Your Words

An owl with yellow eyes.

Before you say anything to anyone, you should always consider how your words may be interpreted. If you have time to think deeply about what you want to say, write or record it. Then listen back and see if it sounds like it could be taken the wrong way. If so, then revise your statement and practice it on someone who can give you feedback. If you’re giving advice to someone about a sensitive issue, or proposing a new business idea, it’s worth doing a little rehearsal.

Be Confident

If you want to take the lead and be straightforward, you must show that you’re confident. Not only do you have to display self-confidence, but you must believe in your statements and directions. Even if you don’t have full confidence, feel accomplished and secure in your successes, and unphased by your mistakes. Don’t risk appearing unsure of any idea that you present, or people will sense it almost immediately. Instead, do your best to appear confident!

Stick Up for Yourself

Speaking up for your ideas and the things you believe in doesn’t mean raising your voice or getting red in the face about them. At least, not for someone who wants to actually be heard and recognized. Your points will be acknowledged more readily if you present them in a calm and collected fashion. If you aren’t able to remain civil, respectful, and professional while sharing and explaining your ideas, people are unlikely to listen.

Don’t Be the Last to Speak

We know that being the first to speak can be nerve-racking, but it’s important to share your point when others are alert and listening. If you share your thoughts at the beginning of a discussion while everyone’s fresh, those thoughts will leave the first impression. Being the first to share will also demonstrate that you value your ideas and aren’t afraid to pose them to a group, which is a quality of brave leaders. If you wait until the last minute to share your idea, it may get overlooked and people might think you’re too unsure of it that they won’t give it a second thought. So, jump in there and don’t be afraid to speak your mind!

Ask More Questions

The word "What" sits in a pile of question marks.

Asking questions demonstrates that you’re eager to learn and hear other people’s responses and thoughts, which is another strong leadership tendency. Remember, don’t just ask questions to ask questions. Make sure that your questions are well thought out and encourage people to truly consider them. And don’t ask so many questions that it feels like an interrogation or that you’re lacking original ideas. When the questions have been asked, truly listen to the responses. 

Dare to Disagree

When a person brings an idea, thought, or opinion to the table that you disagree with, explain why your opinion varies from theirs. Then, ask for them to further explain their thoughts. If you can find reasons to argue that your take is more valid than theirs, then debate it. In the debate, remember to critique the person’s idea, not the person. Since we all become very attached to our ideas, especially ones we believe strongly in, it’s hard to criticize ideas without that criticism feeling personal. Here are some great tips in giving neutral criticism that doesn’t feel like an attack.

It’s Nothing Personal

Similar to what’s stated in the paragraph above, part of being straightforward is also the ability to handle straightforward talk coming at you. If you want to dish it, you must be able to receive it, and that means not taking things personally. Even if the person who’s sharing their ideas with you hasn’t quite figured out how to be respectful in their delivery, let it go. It’s not a slight against you, it’s an argument against your idea. If the person’s not talking about you, then it’s safe to relax and not take their words personally.

Assertion Isn’t Aggression

You’re now on your way to proposing your new ideas and being straightforward with the people around you. Although it may be scary at first, expressing yourself will eventually become more comfortable, and you’ll also start feeling more confident. As your confidence increases, remember to take other people’s feelings into consideration and respect their boundaries. And no matter how strongly you feel about your thoughts, ideas, and opinions, don’t force them on anyone who isn’t open for discussion. Assertiveness doesn’t mean aggressively sharing your concepts.

Once you’ve started speaking your mind and being straightforward, make sure that you’re not just talking but also doing. Check out our blog to find out how you can begin “Developing Your Ability to Follow Through” with those ideas that you’re so eager to share!