Why Is Being Direct So Difficult? Part 1

How to get what you want from life.

There comes a time in every relationship when you find yourself wanting to say something, yet holding back. Why is it we often find it hard to be direct with our partners, family or friends? How do we get what we want from life?

two men ignoring each other

“BEING DIRECT AND ASKING FOR WHAT WE WANT FROM OTHERS CAN FEEL AWKWARD. MOSTLY BECAUSE WE HAVEN’T PRACTICED DOING THIS”.

Start Talking

Being direct is often seen as conflict. This can make it difficult or uncomfortable for us to step up and ask for what we want or need. When what you and I want are different, there’s an inherent conflict we have to resolve and that can be a challenge. One thing that makes resolving this conflict harder is when one of us can’t just step right up and ask for what we want. Many times in relationships of all kinds, one person simply agrees to go with whatever is happening, even when it feels uncomfortable. In an effort not to “rock the boat”, someone gives up autonomy and their own needs. While this is great if the cruise ship is sinking and it’s a matter of women and children first, it’s not so helpful when it’s stuff that happens every day and it can keep us from really being able to get what we want from life.

Being direct and asking for what we want from others often feels awkward. Mostly because we haven’t practiced doing this. When we are kids, our parents often told us that things happened “for our own good”. We were taught not to question what was already taking place, or if we did, there was an argument of some kind, so we learned not to ask. Being direct means we need to ask and that takes a little practice. It’s a skill we need to hone in order to make it work for us without backfiring and without increasing the level of conflict.

women talking on bench

Asking for what we want from others can feel awkward if we don’t do it very often.

Say What You Need

When we learn to be direct in ways that keep things moving forward, the conflicts smooth out and everyone feels better in the end. It also helsp us get what we want in life whether that’s more happiness, being calmer or being heard. Most often, being direct will help a situation, when it’s done thoughtfully and with skill. We aren’t talking about barging in like the bull in the china shop, tossing things about in an effort to get what we want. Being direct means that we thoughtfully approach the people involved and find ways to make clear requests for change.

How’s that again…

4 Simple Steps

Being direct can be as simple as four steps. I’ve outlined them below for you. if you are just starting to practice this skill it can be super helpful to take e a few minutes and write out your steps the first few times. Just like shooting hoops, this stuff takes practice to be skilful at doing.

1. State that you have a request to make.
“Bob, I have a request of you”.

2. State what the current situation is without judgement.
“I notice that many people in our team leave work early”.

3. Make your request in clear, simple language.
“I would like to leave work early two days a week if everything is completed”.

4. Wait for the response.
Sometimes this is the most difficult part!

What you have created is an opening for dialog so you’ll need to be willing to actually talk to the other people involved. It might be that they need time to think about things. They might want to check with others involved, they might be put off and get a little snotty. Don’t let any of these throw you for a loop. They are normal reactions. We often need time to process requests and some of us take longer than others so have some patience.

“YOU WANT HELP? ASK FOR HELP. YOU WANT LOVE? ASK FOR LOVE. IF YOU WANT ANYTHING FROM THE UNIVERSE, ANYTHING FROM YOURSELF, YOU MUST FIRST ASK.”
― Kamand Kojouri

woman with arms raised

Few of us know what others want unless we are asked.

 Conversation is Key!

The point is to create an opening for a conversation with the other person, where you offer them an option to engage, a crisp overview and then a very clear request for action. Make it easy for them to step into the conversation with you from the get-go. Give them space to process and above all make your request for change very clear and simple. Then step back and wait. Let the process work for you by not rushing it. Maybe your request is granted right off the bat. More than likely there will be some additional discussion. That’s perfect. You’ve already set the tone for the discussion by keeping judgement out of the initial ask. Expect some back and forth and keep the judgement and comparisons out of the whole darned conversation as best you can.

Like I said, being direct takes some practice. You might not have it go well the first few times, or it might feel super awkward. Let it feel awkward, you are honing your skills here and creating something positive in the end.

If you want to jump right to Parts 2 and 3…. Click the links below:

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