Due to some problems with a semi-crazy lady, I asked a couple of my good friends if I came off as rude to people. Both friends said that I wasn't rude, but that I didn't wrap everything up in pretty words. I'm direct when speaking with others. For example, when telling someone that my children can't attend practice 6 days a week. I would say, "I told my children that I can only drive them to practice 3-4 days each week. The younger children can't be left at home alone 6 nights each week." Some people would prefer that I say, "I know that practice is so important and I really wish that I could drive the children each day, but I just can't make the schedule work. I tried really hard to find a way to do it, but I just can't get them here that often. I'm so sorry."
The first statement is matter-of-fact and to the point, without leaving any room for misunderstandings. The second statement acknowledges the opinion of the recipient of my message, and apologizes for letting the team down. It also can give the impression that if the schedule changes, I will get the children to practice more often. Is it more important to be crystal clear and make a statement that doesn't leave room for a different interpretation or is it more important to use a lot of words to cushion a statement that isn't what the recipient wants to hear?
I used to be much less direct, but often found myself doing things I didn't want to do because my statements were misconstrued into a "maybe" instead of a "no." My time is at such a premium these days, that I don't have time to do things that I have said I can't do. Nor do I have the time to repeatedly say no to something.
Obviously, I need to be less direct with people I don't know very well and with people who need to have their emotional needs addressed. But the people who won't take no for an answer will still get a direct answer from me.