Can I Be Frank?

Apparently, I’m wearing cranky pants, today. It’s challenging to me, because I know I’m wearing a skirt, but I can tell by the reaction of people around me that I seem harsh to them. My immediate response to this is to feel apologetic, but when I look back at what I said, I wonder about it. In one case, someone asked me to meet later this month on Wednesday, the 24th. I mentioned that the 24th is Tuesday, but said I was available either day at the proposed time. The response was “Oh my.” I’m not sure what about that would have been harsh, but it seemed to be received that way.

The second one, I understand better why the person who overheard it thought I was being harsh— I had some uncomfortable things to say, but I made sure that the person I was addressing understood that I was challenging the process, not the person. I repeated my appreciation for the person and my commitment to the system we’re both in, but raised concerns about the process.

In my mind, I was being direct— I’d rather tell the person now, honestly, what would make me cease to participate, going forward, so that we can get past it. And I know the person who overheard is indirect in her communication, and comfortable with saying things behind backs and under breath, hoping for change. I’ve come to believe it’s better to look someone in the eye and say the thing you know they’re not going to want to hear, if it means that you have the hope of resolving the issue. And that either way, it’s more consistent with who I want to be, to be direct and honest, and not talk behind someone’s back. I had a boss, several years ago, and you never had to wonder where you stood with him. It took awhile to get used to that, but I came to really appreciate that style, because it’s much less work when you don’t have to wonder where you stand with someone.

Do we think that my directness is mostly off-putting because I’m a woman, or do we think that there’s a strong possibility (I’ve published a few other posts today— you should be able to establish a sense for whether I’m just being crabby and tone deaf about it) that my pants are crankier than I think?

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4 thoughts on “Can I Be Frank?

  1. I’ve noticed that there are times when I’m strung a bit tighter than usual and when that happens, I tend to come off more harsh than I intend to. Even when I go over what I said and how I said it, even if I thought I was fine, I can’t explain the other person’s reaction as anything other than responding to some prickly vibe that I’m giving out. Maybe there’s just some subtle vibe you were passing on without realizing it.

    • I think there’s some truth to that. The person who overheard agreed that I “told it like it was,” and was neither cruel nor derogatory, but said that she felt that it was clear I’d been holding these things back for awhile, and that it came out stronger than I may have intended it. Maybe. In the same conversation, the overhearer said things about the person I talked to that she would never have said to the person’s face. That’s a difference I’m trying to make, and it lost her most of her credibility with me on the subject. I think it’s a higher integrity position to say something respectful, even if uncomfortable, to someone’s face, and prefer not to talk behind her back. I do think that women don’t get a lot of social support for “telling it like it is,” and I think the overhearer’s impression of who I am might be playing a large role in her reaction to the content of my message. She’s not one for drawing boundaries, and I was definitely drawing a boundary. I was talking with the BFF about it, and we agreed that when you have something uncomfortable to say in a relationship, it’s better to just say it. I’d rather be clear in stating that this is a boundary for me, so that when I enforce it, the person I was addressing doesn’t feel blind-sided, than pretend that things are fine and snark behind her back.

      • Unfortunately when it comes to women, there are some that prefer the snarky behind the back approach to life. I think you have a much healthier attitude.

  2. Pingback: Can I Be Frank? Update | Adventures of Auntie M

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