A Feather and a Boulder

Tact and Bluntness

A colleague complimented me on my tact, saying I “have a wonderful way with words… poise and grace.” Another likes my bluntness, saying that “real friends tell it straight, compliments AND criticisms.”

Tact and bluntness.

My mom once said she was glad that I had acquired some of my dad’s diplomacy to go along with her outspokenness.

Tact and bluntness. In business (and in life) I think you’re best served when you use both.

Photo by Chris P. (Flickr).

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Comments ( 2 )

  • I think you were wise to put “tact” ahead of “bluntness,” Daria. I think that is the biggest challenge: couching the (usually) criticisms in a thoughtful, yet persuasive manner, rather than just a jab. I also annoyed a male colleague when I indicated that things that were “fact-based, rather than opinion-laced” were always more relevant and helpful in moving debates forward.

    Question for you: do you think the conventional wisdom is that women aren’t (or shouldn’t be) as “blunt” as men? I’ve observed (especially in social media) that a fair number of females who appear to use the flattering or cajoling tactic to win male approval and championing. I dislike it in the workplace and I find it an old-fashioned and non-egalitarian technique.

    It’s a tactic I rarely employ, although I have been known to tease both males and females. But only the ones I quite like/respect.

    If I’m less fond of someone, either their arguments, opinions or personality, I lean towards the ultra formal.

    (No flattery here) I quite like how succinct and to-the-point your post is; eloquent but almost blunt.


    • Hi Judy–It’s a truism for a reason that “you can catch more flies with honey.” I never understand when someone deliberately alienates another person when a little tact might get them to listen to your POV. On the flip side, I don’t get people who are afraid to speak their mind. My own feeling is you can’t solve a problem or tackle a challenge if you’re unwilling to (however gently you phrase it) call it out first.

      Good question on the gender front. I think “old-fashioned” is a good way to put it, because occasionally women have to use a little cajoling to deal with “old-fashioned” men. I know I’ve done it effectively a couple of times in the workplace in the past. It may not be ideal, but if it allows you to get your point across (and, in the process, earn respect and stop the crap), then it’s worth it.

      Most of the time, though, I think women (and men) should just have confidence and speak with confidence.