I once had a coworker who was always very honest and direct. She spoke her mind and voiced her opinions. And she took a lot of pride in always “telling it like it is.” I thought she was terrifying.

I never knew what might come out of her mouth. I guess it was good that she always told the truth. But she often said hurtful things, and I was always afraid that I would be the next person to receive her brutally honest feedback. I didn’t want her to tell me that my shirt was ugly – even if it was.

So what should you do to avoid being like my terrifying coworker? How can you be direct and honest without being unkind? Experts suggest that you follow these three steps:

  1. Investigate before you speak – Make sure to pause before you speak. Think about what you want to say. And before offering your honest opinion, make sure you have a full understanding of the situation. Ask questions and investigate the other person’s point-of-view.
  2. Don’t get personal – It’s OK to criticize an idea that you think is ill conceived. But never criticize the person who generated that idea. Even if a discussion gets heated, never tell people that they’re “ridiculous,” “selfish,” “uninformed,” or any other type of personal insult.
  3. Get to know your coworkers – People won’t listen to you if they don’t know you and trust you (even if you are right). So take the time to get to know your coworkers and form relationships with them. They’ll be much more likely to listen to you and respect your opinions (even if they differ from their own).


Stillman, J. (2015, November 16). 3 ways to be direct (without being rude). Inc. Retrieved from http://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/be-direct-not-rude-3-tips.html