Don't be direct, be clear

I hear many times, Asians need to be more direct. When I first started coaching Asian executives 16 years ago, my goal was to teach Asians how to be more direct. I quickly realized that this was the wrong approach to take since direct has a connotation of “force”. We Asians are not so comfortable using “force” in our communications.

Instead, I discovered a highly effective way to address this communication gap, seek “clarity” when communicating. You can gain “clarity” and yet be softer, respectful and less forceful.

Being clear is incredibly effective

Why is it that some people who have made it to the top have a glaring “blind spot?” It’s because no one really confronted them on their behaviour. In performance appraisals, their bosses did not clearly give them honest feedback in fear of demotivating them.

A key reason why we’re a successful coaching organization is that we provide clear feedback to coachees regarding their strengths as well as their blind spots. In fact, one of the most valued aspects of our coaching, is that we gather for the coachee clear, honest feedback. 360° feedback systems are helpful but can be incomplete. Our feedback is gathered through interviews of the stakeholders. This allows us to follow-up on the feedback they give to gain more clarity.

Being clear is incredibly efficient

Things get executed more quickly, more completely, when you clearly lay out up front your vision or the task you are delegating.

Being clear demonstrates confidence and authenticity

Start With Why author Simon Sinek, “A leader is authentic when they clearly understand what they believe, their strengths/passions, their principles and then leverage them into their leadership. People gravitate to people who are authentic.”

If we want to be more effective leaders, we need to learn to be crystal clear when giving directions, giving feedback, asking for assistance, delegating task, sharing our vision, etc.