Bluntness & Motivation

I have been going through a confidence crisis recently (not what you think though).  I have been trying to think why people are not confident in doing what they need to do.  The thought had reached a crisis level.

Yesterday, I came across a simple and direct article (completely unrelated to the topic) on bluntness (by Kate Nasser) which got me thinking tangentially yet again.  The article included a point on bluntness being different from diplomatic honesty.

Bluntness is considered a bad thing due to the connotation of the message not being given in the right spirit.  The basic assumption, though, is that the message being given is a negative message.  My thought raced to what if the message is positive?  Will being blunt become a pleasant experience then?

The mind then reverted to the confidence issue.  One of the elements of confidence is positive feedback for your actions.  Negative feedback is useful for correcting incorrect actions, but re-enforcing and motivating positive actions is critical to the act of confidence building – ask (almost) any parent.

We are often “blunt” or “diplomatically honest” when the results are not upto our expectations (what we perceive as incorrect actions).  We are quick to remind people about appropriate customer service (as customers), appropriate performance (as managers), appropriate xyz (as abc), etc.  We love it and feel like we are contributing to society as a whole.

What do we do when things happen correctly?  When we get a coffee at the right temperature?  When the travel department books the right flight?  When the resource at our disposal writes the correct piece of code?  Well that is just as expected!  The lack of negative feedback should clearly indicate our satisfaction?  Introspection time!  We all typically feel the need for a little bit more than that.

I am not suggesting that we lower our standards; that we should start giving people accolades for showing up to work.  Going beyond expectations should stay exactly where it is and the rewards should remain tough to get.  However, we should adjust our attitude to the “met expectation” rating.  There should be something in it for people who are able to achieve that.  A “thank you”, “that is exactly what I was looking for”, “this is appropriate” and myriad such examples could go a long way…

A long way to what?  To building the confidence of the person this was said to.  Of ensuring that they understand that they met your expectations and relieving them of the need to be body language readers to do so.  I am proposing that we stop making the lack of negativity represent positivity.

Thinking about my own behavior, do I do this?  Yes!  Consistently?  No!  Often enough? Not sure, but no harm in trying!  From today, I pledge to be more complimentary and verbal than I have been before.  I pledge to be more “blunt”.  9-to-whatevers: your views?