Are You Too Blunt?

Have you ever been given feedback that you are too direct, brutally blunt, brusque, or abrupt?  A reader writes to share that this style of communication is an impediment to his career growth and asks Lisa B. Marshall, aka The Public Speaker, for ideas on how to change.

Lisa B. Marshall
5-minute read
Episode #335

Here's an email from a reader: 

Hi Lisa,

My name is Dhiraj V. and I am IT professional with 30 years of experience in the industry. Most of my colleagues are younger than me since I changed my career from business men to IT professional. I have more education and experience in my field than my senior managers. I read your tips on public speaking and they are very helpful but my problem is my voice gets loud and people think I am fighting when I am communicating with others during meetings, asking questions in presentation, and when answering questions, etc. I am very blunt in delivering my message to others even though my colleagues would say that my answers are very truthful and demonstrate a very clear understanding of subject.

I am looking for ways to improve on my delivery because my communication is an impediment to career growth.


Dhiraj V.

Hi Dhiraj, 

Thanks for your email and for trusting me with your concerns. I understand and really relate to your question because I was once a "blunt" communicator, too! (Some might say I still am.) In fact, I was once told, "Lisa you're like a cruise ship coming into port: you rock all the little boats all around you!" 

As you point out in your email, this can certainly hold you back professionally. First it's important for you to know that it turns out we're not alone. A recent study showed that insensitive (and abrasive) communication is what often holds people back. 

See Also: Stop Being a Jerk

Fortunately for me, I received this feedback early in my career and I was sent to a course in interpersonal communication to learn about the different styles of communication. (It’s what got me started on my journey to becoming a communication professional!)  I've written about communication style before, and a good place to start would be to understand how to flex your style. (By the way, you might want to get on the waiting list for a my communication assessment. After the short assessment, you get a 22-page report, which helps you to better understand your communication style and gives you tips to flex your style. It was so popular I plan to bring it back soon!)   

See Also: Does Your Communication Style Hold You Back


About the Author

Lisa B. Marshall

Lisa B. Marshall Lisa holds masters with duel degrees in interpersonal/intercultural communication and organizational communication. She’s the author of Smart Talk: The Public Speaker's Guide to Success in Every Situation, as well as Ace Your Interview, Powerful Presenter, and Expert Presenter. Her work has been featured in CBS Money Watch, Ragan.com, Woman's Day, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and many others. Her institutional clients include Johns Hopkins Medicine, Harvard University, NY Academy of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Genentech, and Roche.