Direct and Indirect Communication Styles
Direct communication is just that: direct, explicit, clear, and kind. You know exactly what the other person is needing, wanting, how s/he feels, how it looks or sounds to him/her, etc. And you respond in kind; directly, explicitly and with care for your partner.
Indirect communication is the opposite of direct communication; it is not clear and explicit. Something is said, or not said. The meaning is implied, but it might be ambiguous, confusing, or just lost on the listener.
Understanding, Connection and Intimacy
We all know in theory which style leads to understanding, connection and intimacy, and which leads to misunderstandings, arguments, and disconnection. Why then are people not communicating directly?
Culture and family of origin are the simple answers. In certain Cultures, religions, and families, direct communication is not the norm, is frowned upon, is directly or indirectly forbidden, is seen as brash, rude, forward, disrespecting one’s elders, etc.
Did you come from a family in which very little or nothing was/is discussed? Certainly, feelings were not encouraged or discussed? If so, you come from the same system most people do. It’s ‘normal’ even if it’s not healthy, and trying direct communication will be feel ‘abnormal’ for a while (it takes 66 days to create a new habit).
Since no one can guess what you mean (they can try, but most of the time guesses and suppositions are wrong), nor can they read your mind, Use Your Words!
7 Things to Remember When Using Your Words:
1. Wait for your defensive wave to rise and FALL before speaking.
2. Remember the post a while back with three questions about communication? Does this need to be said at all? Does it need to be said by me? Does it need to said by me now?
3. What do you want out of the communication? To be heard? For an apology? For agreement to a topic? To share logistical information? Be clear about this with yourself first, and then with your partner (e.g., I’m seeking your agreement on the topic of ____________. Here’s what I think/feel/need ________________. What do you think/feel/see about it?)
4. Will honey or vinegar lead to the outcome you hope for? Proceed accordingly.
5. Speak kindly.
6. Speak in small doses, and have your partner speak in small doses in return (washer tool).
7. Think about traffic lights . Only speak about content when you’re both green.
Set yourself the experiment to try direct communication. Be transparent and let your partner know you’re embarking on this experiment. It will go well some of the time. It might not go well some of the time. Don’t give up; you’re learning.
P.S. This will also help you with bosses and co-workers, friends and family.