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Identifying and coping with direct and indirect communicators

How are direct and indirect communicators different from each other?

This dimension of communication often pairs up with the linear-circular style explained in this article.

The Direct Communicator

Meaning is conveyed through explicit statements made directly to the people involved with little reliance on contextual factors such as situation and timing. (What you see is what you get! Tell it like it is!)

Direct communicators tend to also be linear communicators.

There is no"beating around the bush." Directness is equated
with honesty and respect for the other person.

The Indirect Communicator

Meaning is conveyed by suggestion, implication, nonverbal behavior, and other contextual cues; for instance, statements intended for one person may be made within earshot of a different person. It is possible that messages will be sent through a third-party intermediary. Mostly, however, this style allows one to avoid confronting another person or cause them to lose face. (What you get is what you manage to see!)

If You Have A Direct Communication Style:

  • Make an effort to listen fully to others and avoid interrupting
  • Allow time for ‘chatting’ at the beginning of a meeting
  • Recognize that others may feel the need to express their emotions about topics
  • Recognize that brainstorming can be helpful and not just a ‘time waster’
  • Try to communicate your expectations for how a meeting will go – the length of time, the topics to be covered, and the expected results – before a meeting occurs
  • Take the time to show your appreciation for others’ contributions
  • Don’t use email for sensitive or complicated topics
  • Allow time in your schedule for questions and feedback

If You Are Communicating With A Direct Communicator

  • Ask if they have time to talk before jumping in
  • Get to the point quickly – don’t bore them with lots of background information
  • Limit ‘chatting’ or conversation that is off-topic
  • Use short, direct sentences
  • Ask for a specific call to action or make a specific request
  • Do not speak in the abstract
  • Only promise what you are certain you can deliver
  • Don’t give or ask for information about personal issues unless they initiate it
  • Don’t sugar coat things – speak plainly



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Bacal & Associates was founded in 1992. Since then Robert has trained thousands of employees to deal with angry, hostile, abusive and potentially violent customers. He has authored over 20 books on various subjects, many published by McGraw-Hill.


Robert Bacal

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