Be More Straightforward: Tips To Help You Cut To The Chase

There's a stark difference between directly and clearly delivering a message and stammering through a conversation and speaking in circles. However, being blunt can be uncomfortable, especially if you're a soft-spoken person. Anxiety may bubble up before having a conversation that requires you to face your fear of confrontation. Maybe your heart starts pounding, and your thoughts start racing as you try to figure out how to start it or communicate your point. While using more words and dancing around the other person's feelings may be easier to default to, learning how to be direct can be beneficial for both you and those around you.


Taking the first steps can be daunting, frustrating even. Some people find it easy to be straightforward and assertive when sharing their criticism and opinions; meanwhile, some of us get nervous just at the thought of communicating so bluntly. Beginning with a calm state of mind — or at least as close as you can get to calm — and having open body language is a solid place to start.

Communicate your point clearly

First, have a clear idea of what you're trying to say and enter the conversation with a sense of confidence. Remember, your opinion has value, and your critiques can be helpful to the person receiving them. After all, how can a person grow without being given feedback on how to improve? When you're sharing, it can be helpful to speak in "I" statements rather than "You" statements. For example, try, "I feel frustrated when I don't get an advance notice for an event," instead of saying, "You never let me know ahead of time." People tend to be more receptive when you use this manner of speech. "Putting the emphasis on your own needs helps you assert boundaries while avoiding judgments toward the other person and potentially triggering their defensiveness," Boston-based clinical psychologist David Helfand, PsyD, told Psych Central.


You may find yourself rambling to avoid sharing your opinion or criticism, which can make things confusing for the other person. Instead of trying to soften the critique, sharing it directly makes for clearer communication and leaves less room for misinterpretation. Usually, this looks like using fewer words to better communicate your point.

Prevent anxiety when having difficult conversations

Another helpful tip is to communicate that you have a difficult topic to discuss. This allows you and the other person to mentally prepare. However, be careful not to be overly vague, as that can be anxiety-inducing for the person you're speaking with. Rather than emailing or texting something along the lines of, "We need to talk," you can ask to discuss the specific topic, whether it be a project you have some feedback on or the need to set a clear boundary. If you're worried about coming across as too harsh, you're likely not. A study by Columbia University showed that people often think they're coming off more aggressive than they actually are.


"Difficult conversations are going to be uncomfortable, especially if you aren't used to being assertive," Texas-based licensed marriage and family therapist Bina Bird told The Cut. "If you wait until you have no anxiety or discomfort, then the conversation may never happen." Like with most things, the more you practice, the better you'll become.