What’s the difference between being blunt or tactful? When you are being honest are you tactful in your delivery or are you blunt? Do you make a conscious decision when to invoke either choice or is your personality simply always tactful or always blunt? Well, let me be blunt … I recommend using both at the same time.
The dictionary defines tactful as: a sense of what is fitting and considerate in dealing with others, so as to avoid giving offence; having skill or judgment in handling difficult or delicate situations. Blunt has a much, well blunter definition: lacking subtlety; straightforward and uncomplicated.
Here’s why I prefer to be blunt as long as it is colored with tact. Blunt is quick, straight to the point, and usually honest. I do not have to candy-coat or tiptoe around the issue and hope that the person got the gist of what I was trying to say, and then hope further that they interpreted it with the sentiment that I intended. That’s way too much soap-opera delivery for my taste.
But unlike some people who get labeled as brutally honest, i.e., their truth tends to hurt, I feel that if you deliver your honesty with compassion and respect (tact) you will not be brutal and ideally you will helpful.
Being too tactful (without bluntness) has it’s own set of problems. This approach often results in a wishy-washy delivery of what you think the person wants to hear. Inside you’re thinking I wish I could just tell them they’re being silly or blind. How much time is wasted in your life having misdirected communication because you’re trying to be tactful. If someone asks for your opinion, or are in a position to offer helpful wisdom or advice – do it quickly, compassionately, and be succinct!
That leads me to my other favorite word when it comes to communication between people. Succinct means: marked by brevity and clarity; concise. Succinct also goes hand in hand with blunt, as both imply quick or brief. (Ah, the beauty of something put simply, clearly, and honestly makes me smile.)
So the next time you need to be honest about something of importance to you or another person, be tactfully-blunt and your life will move on quicker and be the better for it.