Having lived in the East (India, Indonesia) where people talk directly to you without necessarily intending offence, I find it interesting to note that when you come to England and talk in the same direct way, it can often offend and be considered quite rude.
Thus to me, the difference in cultures and the way people perceive things and read or hear what you say you is very interesting. There should always therefore be a period of learning when meeting with people from different parts of the world.
In India if someone says to you – “you’re looking fat” or “you got fat” it is a polite way of saying you are looking healthy & wealthy. This stems from the fact that poor people can’t afford much to eat so are thin, and as a result, also often ill.
When I was told by a girl in India who hadn’t seen me for some time that I was looking fat, I thanked her. After all, she had a genuine smile of welcoming on her face and I understood that she was meaning it as a complete compliment and that I was looking very well. Having lived there and knowing her, I understood the meaning behind the words.
Being the way I am, if I had not understood her statement, I would not simply have accepted and drawn conclusions from it. I would probably have asked her “Why do you say that dear?”
In England and a large part of the western world, if you said the same thing to someone (whether they be friend or only a nodding acquaintance) it seems that they would most times be affronted by it.
So why is that I asked myself? I came to the conclusion that it was perhaps because people do not question further the reasoning behind a statement? Questioning can surely only lead to better understanding after all, can’t it? Children do it all the time as part of their learning after all.
A simple “why do you say that?” helps to elicit further information which then can swing the mood towards the true meaning of a comment – providing the questioner then listens to the answer to that question of course!
Curiousity is surely good in these situations. Jumping to conclusions is NOT the way to go since that involves our own inner feelings and judgement of ourselves which may be influenced by external marketing. You may sometimes need to dig deeper to root out the true meaning but should not jump to conclusions and be affronted by it.
In a sales environment, good sales techniques include questioning, listening and overcoming any objections/barriers so why not in a personal situation when you are surely in the process of selling yourself anyway?
So how direct should we be? … and WHERE & WHEN should we be direct?
That is for every individual to decide upon given their circumstances, their life experiences and their attitude to others as well as to themselves.
In my experience, most people will feel confident and have self-love of themselves if brought up in a predominantly positive environment but they can also develop self-loathing in the same way through an abundance of negativity. These feelings of negativity are barriers to be overcome and often need further exploration in the form of questioning and listening.
No-one else really judges us after all – we are our own judges and I feel that although we should never judge others, it is human nature to draw some conclusions. But we really cannot draw conclusions about others without further disclosure and understanding.
My belief is that the best way to achieve that is through actively listening to the other person. To listen better and really HEAR what is said we may have to question further but we will learn more as a result. Life is all about learning and it is not only ourselves that have interesting points of view so we should question, listen and then explore the responses further in an attempt to also better develop ourselves further.
You will need to decide for yourself where to stop with direct plain-speaking of course and will often find that keeping quiet may be the best solution.
Unfortunately, although some will question your statement and then listen before judging, many others are quick to jump to conclusions and retire into their own negative thoughts. This negative way of responding can then breed resentment.
That should not stop you from being direct though as when you are direct, if you are not considered rude and neither are you misunderstood you may have met a new like-minded soul, to add to your coterie of direct speaking friends.