Direct Communicators are people who “Say what they mean-and mean what they say!” You will typically know what a DC is trying to communicate to you because there is no ambiguity or lack of clarity in their communication style. Direct Communicators say “My words are my words!”
Lucy Van Pelt from the Peanuts comic strip is a great example of a Direct Communicator!
On the other end of the spectrum are INDIRECT COMMUNICATORS. In contrast to Direct Communicators, Indirect Communicator’s words often do NOT reflect what they really feel, mean or want to say. If WORDS are the way Direct Communicators communicate, Indirect Communicators communicate through their body language, expressions, and mannerisms.
Let me give you an example…
Let’s pretend that a Direct Communicator (DC) and an Indirect Communicator (IC) want to go to lunch.
DC: “I’m feeling like Mexican food today. Does that sound good to you?”
IC: (Fidgets, crosses arms, looks away) “Uh…I just had Mexican yesterday. Did you hear about the new Chinese place down the street? BUT, if you’d really like Mexican, I guess I’m okay with that.”
DC: “Awesome! Let’s go.”
IC: Sighs (internally) and goes to eat Mexican food, and is NOT happy about it!
Later on that same day...
The Indirect Communicator meets up with a fellow Indirect Communicator and is ready to explode!
IC: You’ll never believe what happened at lunch today!
IC: You know how DC always eats where she wants and NEVER cares about where anyone else wants to eat?
IC2: (Rolls eyes) Yes, I do!
IC: Today she said she wanted Mexican food-again, and I told her that I already ate Mexican food yesterday and was thinking of trying that new Chinese place. But still, we ended up eating Mexican food.
IC2: That sucks.
IC: I know, right? The worst part is she KNEW that I didn’t want Mexican and she still wanted to eat there.
IC2: She’s always like that.
IC and IC2: (Fuming)
DC: Has NO idea IC is mad.
Does this sound familiar?
Remember, a DC’s words are his/her words. So when a DC says “yes” it means “yes” and when s/he says “no” it means no. So, in this scenario when the IC said “yes” (even if it was surrounded by a bunch of clues that she didn’t want Mexican) the DC heard “yes” and moved on with her day.
As a DC it wouldn’t occur to her that someone would say “yes” when she really meant “no.” Meanwhile the IC is upset at the DC because the DC didn’t take the time to read the clues and go beyond the words!
Is it any wonder that communicating is so difficult??
If you’re an IC, I’d recommend pushing through the uncomfortableness of being more “blunt” than you’re used to and being able to “Say what you mean and mean what you say!” While it may feel weird, I think you’ll find that the people around you will appreciate your honesty and candor.
If you’re a DC, remember that with IC’s you may need to probe a little-and when the body language doesn’t match what they’re saying, don’t be afraid to ask what’s the real story! And remember, that sometimes your being direct can come across as being like Lucy from Peanuts-so sometimes you may need to tone down the directness!
Ultimately….whether you’re a Direct Communicator or an Indirect Communicator the important thing to remember is that not everyone communicates like you do. This doesn’t necessarily make them jerks, !^&$*%^$, insensitive, rude, weak, wishy-washy etc. It just makes them different.
If you want to win with people (and you should!) it’s up to you to understand the people in your neighborhood and learn how to connect with all of them!
Are you an Indirect Communicator?