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  1. #1
    Plumage and Moult proteanmix's Avatar
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    Default Direct and Indirect Communication

    This is a returning topic in my mind, directness and assertiveness.

    I see very often on this forum (less so IRL, but whatever) someone often advising another person to be direct or complaining about the lack of directness from others, which often leads to declarations of insecurity and immaturity towards the "indirect" party.

    So I've been trying to think of some scenarios that I would like people to categorize as direct or indirect. I'm trying to figure out what exactly are people's ideas of direct. All of these scenarios have happened to me.

    Scene 1
    When I worked at Starbucks and when it was slow us baristas would sit around talk. If we still had unfinished duties to do the manager would eventually start assigning us tasks around the store (effectively ending our chat sessions) but did not say anything to us about our socializing.

    Scene 2
    When I worked at Victoria's Secret I so enjoyed one of my coworkers there. Basically we'd come to work just to talk and hang out. We'd typically choose some low customer interaction task and chit chat while we were working. Once our manager came up to us in full conversational thrall and said, "My! Aren't you two chatty Cathys!"

    Scene 3
    Recently I went to get blood drawn, the lab tech put on gloves and opened every drawer in the area looking for something and even left the room and I heard her rifling through drawers in the other room. She came back to me smiled and said "OK, ready!" I waited to see if she was going to change gloves again but when she picked up my arm I said "Are you going to change your gloves?"

    Scenario 4 (stole this one)
    Imagine you've just hired a new consultant whose job is to help you improve your communication. The first time you meet with her, she hands you an article and says, "Sit down and read this article I've written. Think about it carefully. Then I want to talk to you about it."

    How would people rate the directness of each of these scenes?

    I wonder if directness is related to a person's ability to pick up on hints, innuendos, and reading between the lines. Think about alternate versions of each scenario as well, i.e. being perceived as bossy, authoritarian, micromanaging, passive, etc.

    Also, this ties into calling people passive-aggressive as well. I sometimes think one person's passive-aggressiveness is another's blunt force trauma. One person will accuse another of being passive-aggressive, while the accusee will assert they were being direct. Once again, I think it depends on how a person defines direct and how much directness is necessary for them to pick up on what others are saying.

    Thoughts?
    Relationships have normal ebbs and flows. They do not automatically get better and better when the participants learn more and more about each other. Instead, the participants have to work through the tensions of the relationship (the dialectic) while they learn and group themselves and a parties in a relationships. At times the relationships is very open and sharing. Other time, one or both parties to the relationship need their space, or have other concerns, and the relationship is less open. The theory posits that these cycles occur throughout the life of the relationship as the persons try to balance their needs for privacy and open relationship.
    Interpersonal Communication Theories and Concepts
    Social Penetration Theory 1
    Social Penetration Theory 2
    Social Penetration Theory 3

  2. #2
    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by proteanmix View Post
    Scene 1
    When I worked at Starbucks and when it was slow us baristas would sit around talk. If we still had unfinished duties to do the manager would eventually start assigning us tasks around the store (effectively ending our chat sessions) but did not say anything to us about our socializing.
    Indirect. It probably achieves what he wanted (you to stop socializing and get back to work), but it doesn't necessarily communicate the "stop socializing" part unless you're paying attention. Really only communicates the "I want you to work" part. It's fairly good indirect communication, though.

    Scene 2
    When I worked at Victoria's Secret I so enjoyed one of my coworkers there. Basically we'd come to work just to talk and hang out. We'd typically choose some low customer interaction task and chit chat while we were working. Once our manager came up to us in full conversational thrall and said, "My! Aren't you two chatty Cathys!"
    Very direct. Downright blunt. He thinks you talk too much. Chatty Cathy is pretty derogatory, but he had a right to say it being the manager.

    Scene 3
    Recently I went to get blood drawn, the lab tech put on gloves and opened every drawer in the area looking for something and even left the room and I heard her rifling through drawers in the other room. She came back to me smiled and said "OK, ready!" I waited to see if she was going to change gloves again but when she picked up my arm I said "Are you going to change your gloves?"
    Very direct, but understandable. A little embarrassing for the lab tech, but understandable given how important it is for the gloves to be clean.

    Scenario 4 (stole this one)
    Imagine you've just hired a new consultant whose job is to help you improve your communication. The first time you meet with her, she hands you an article and says, "Sit down and read this article I've written. Think about it carefully. Then I want to talk to you about it."
    Very direct and to the point. She tells him exactly what she wants him to do, and in what order. It comes off a little commanding, since she doesn't say "please," and doesn't seem to be acknowledging that he's above her. But it's very good communication otherwise.

  3. #3
    Filthy Apes! Kalach's Avatar
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    Direct to what kind of point? Someone can be direct as all get out, but if their focus is not the same focus as the other guy, the other guy isn't going to call them direct. The other guy might even think the "direct" person is hedging or hiding. Like, an INTJ might say, "Get out of my house!" and the other guy complains, "No, tell me directly, what do you feel about me! Why won't you be direct!"
    Bellison uncorked a flood of horrible profanity, which, translated, meant, "This is extremely unusual."

    Boy meets Grr

  4. #4
    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kalach View Post
    Like, an INTJ might say, "Get out of my house!" and the other guy complains, "No, tell me directly, what do you feel about me! Why won't you be direct!"
    But it's obvious what the INTJ feels. The INTJ hates your guts, and feels that you're intruding.

    Sounds like a typical INTJ feeling. Sometimes I feel that way too, when I'm really drained...

  5. #5
    On a mission Usehername's Avatar
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    @Protean--I think you have started a discussion many could benefit from, but could you clarify your objective/presumptions for categorizing as indirect/direct wrt your 4 situations? Or flesh out your main idea in more words? Especially for your first two situations, you're presuming links between the managers having an agenda and their words relating to that agenda, while not everyone would make those same presumptions unless you spell it out and we start from the same place.
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  6. #6
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    imo, to be direct would be to not have to try to read into posts to find out if there is some hidden gem that isn't being said directly in the post. it just takes too long to do that and i don't have that kind of time. but you guys carry on as usual. don't mind me.

  7. #7
    Glowy Goopy Goodness The_Liquid_Laser's Avatar
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    Here is how I see how each of these four scenarios:
    Quote Originally Posted by proteanmix View Post
    Scene 1
    When I worked at Starbucks and when it was slow us baristas would sit around talk. If we still had unfinished duties to do the manager would eventually start assigning us tasks around the store (effectively ending our chat sessions) but did not say anything to us about our socializing.
    To me this is direct. Why? Because the manager wants to run an efficient store, so if there are unfinished tasks the most direct way to get them done is to tell people to do the tasks. The socializing aspect is irrelevant.

    Scene 2
    When I worked at Victoria's Secret I so enjoyed one of my coworkers there. Basically we'd come to work just to talk and hang out. We'd typically choose some low customer interaction task and chit chat while we were working. Once our manager came up to us in full conversational thrall and said, "My! Aren't you two chatty Cathys!"
    Indirect and also stupid. Does he care about your socializing or does he really just want you to get more work done? The direct way would be to focus on the tasks he wanted done rather than on your socializing.

    Scene 3
    Recently I went to get blood drawn, the lab tech put on gloves and opened every drawer in the area looking for something and even left the room and I heard her rifling through drawers in the other room. She came back to me smiled and said "OK, ready!" I waited to see if she was going to change gloves again but when she picked up my arm I said "Are you going to change your gloves?"
    Mostly direct. You didn't say why you wanted her to change gloves, but if she didn't get the point she'd probably just ask what you meant.

    Scenario 4 (stole this one)
    Imagine you've just hired a new consultant whose job is to help you improve your communication. The first time you meet with her, she hands you an article and says, "Sit down and read this article I've written. Think about it carefully. Then I want to talk to you about it."
    Direct but uninformative. She tells me directly what to do, but doesn't tell me why I'm doing it.
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  8. #8
    Plumage and Moult proteanmix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Usehername View Post
    @Protean--I think you have started a discussion many could benefit from, but could you clarify your objective/presumptions for categorizing as indirect/direct wrt your 4 situations? Or flesh out your main idea in more words? Especially for your first two situations, you're presuming links between the managers having an agenda and their words relating to that agenda, while not everyone would make those same presumptions unless you spell it out and we start from the same place.
    Yah, I know I'm hazy and it's being done on purpose.

    This really stems from comments I see on the forum more than my real life communication. I'd actually written way more but cut out as much of my personal opinion I could and still get my point across.

    The situations are given because I know which ones I think are direct/indirect, but I want to see if others view what I view as direct/indirect. I'm trying to get an idea of what people think of when they say being direct/indirect and even passive-aggressive behaviors that I think are being miscategorized. Kinda like what Kalach said.

    There's also some typological research I'm doing, just to see why some people seem to have problems with other types in communication styles (which can be a product of culture, environment, training, sex, etc.) with communication being superlative to type. I'm thinking about ExxJs being generally direct communicators and most of the people on this forum being INxP and INxPs misinterpreting the communication styles of ExxJs, specifically ESxJs (bossy, demanding, railroading, etc.).

    Cause dammit I just don't have the problems with ESxJs that other people have, and I want to have those problems!!! :steam: I feel so left out.
    Relationships have normal ebbs and flows. They do not automatically get better and better when the participants learn more and more about each other. Instead, the participants have to work through the tensions of the relationship (the dialectic) while they learn and group themselves and a parties in a relationships. At times the relationships is very open and sharing. Other time, one or both parties to the relationship need their space, or have other concerns, and the relationship is less open. The theory posits that these cycles occur throughout the life of the relationship as the persons try to balance their needs for privacy and open relationship.
    Interpersonal Communication Theories and Concepts
    Social Penetration Theory 1
    Social Penetration Theory 2
    Social Penetration Theory 3

  9. #9
    Filthy Apes! Kalach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Athenian200 View Post
    But it's obvious what the INTJ feels.
    Well yeah, sorta. But if the other guy has some overwhelming interest beyond merely doing what the INTJ commands, the other guy'll complain that something is missing. And may directly require some direct statement of something directly other than the passing fancy that he should vacate the premises. "You're not being direct! You're not telling me what I need to hear!" That kind of thing.
    Bellison uncorked a flood of horrible profanity, which, translated, meant, "This is extremely unusual."

    Boy meets Grr

  10. #10
    Senior Member Jaguar's Avatar
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    The first 3 have none. #4 is direct.

    #1 Indirect coward unworthy of management.

    #2 Indirect coward unworthy of management.

    #3 Asking a question like that isn't being direct. It's hedging.

    #4 Clear example of being direct, and issuing a directive.

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