Being Direct = $ and Happiness

6 Aug


Authenticity – Being genuine trumps everything else in terms of human relations. If you’ve heard me speak, had coffee with me for 15 minutes or read my previous blog posts (see I Like the Fat Policeman blog –, you know authenticity is a characteristic I emphasize.  If you want to be a better salesperson, manager, co-worker or friend, you need to be more direct with people. Simply, “let down your guard” more often and be honest. The stress will dissipate and more will happen in your career and life.

Let Down Your Guard – Share something about yourself – NOT “I have two kids, I’m a Twin’s fan, look at my cool car or I went to Disney World last week…” tell them something about YOU. Tell them something interesting. Trust them with something important. When you do this, most people reciprocate and open up to you. It usually doesn’t happen unless you are the first to tell them about the time you got your tongue stuck to the fence last Winter…

Honesty – The truth is a universally good trait that we have not perfected. There’s two sides to this coin – the importance of maintaining some level of decorum and the advantages of being honest. “Decorum” is about being appropriate. There are rules at home and at work that don’t allow us to be completely honest. If a 400 pound woman asks you “Do I look fat in this dress?” you have to soften it – somehow!

You also can’t share everything with our 7-year-old and you can’t tell your boss in the middle of a meeting that you’re leaving to play golf (if you can, you are working for the right boss!). You cannot wear pajamas to work – you get my point. If you read my last blog on the importance of “please” and “thank you”, you’ll understand that I appreciate good manners, but there’s a point where nice has to end and being direct begins in order to accomplish your priorities…

In the workplace, I can be a little brutal at times. I tell clients the truth even when it hurts. If a sales candidate sends me a lousy resume, I tell them to fix it. It’s direct, short and polite usually includes some constructive criticism, but I don’t have the patience for spending a lot of time with average salespeople (I can’t place them!). I’m certain that I offend people, but if my three bullet points on their resume leads to them getting a better job on their own, I’ll settle for that victory.

Recently, a friendly current client asks me “How are you doing?” on the very same morning I’ve been up all night. I was driving back from the ER with my son who smacked his head the night before and he’d gone through concussion testing. I answer “Not very well” and tell him an abbreviated version of the story (if he wants the long version, he’ll ask). Now a lot of people wouldn’t share this personal news, but I usually “spill the beans”.  It gives me a buffer in case he catches me yawning and most importantly, it pre-empts the fact that  I’m not going to be razor-sharp on the call. He did ask a few questions – the same thing happened to his daughter last winter and we chatted for 10 minutes before getting down to business. We now have a better bond and will both enjoy our future interactions even more.

Ten years ago, I had a client in Minneapolis where we were placing inside salespeople. Their office was filthy and two of our hires told us about the overflowing garbage in the middle of the room and their dirty bathrooms. We contemplated how to handle it and I decided to call the owner and be direct about it. The next year our business with them doubled. I was telling them something that no one had shared with them previously and it worked

Directness is about efficiency. Efficiency is about making more money and going home earlier to see your family and friends (what’s really important).

Why are you beating around the bush to sacrifice either?

Let’s review Jim Collins’ famous Hedgehog Concept – you’ll find your sweet spot in the blue area in the middle:


Economic Engine: Translate this to finding a career where there is a demand (then there will be money behind it).

Passion: You will succeed in that circle if  you identify what drives you and continually express those desires to the people around you. These conversations are about what you’ve observed, want and how you feel.

World’s Best?: If you want to be the best in the world at something, you need to worry about this thing called time. Time requires efficiency… efficiency requires what again? Being direct.

It’s a ridiculously simple logic equation that we don’t follow often enough: authenticity = happiness. Pepper in more directness and honesty as you let down your guard more often. I know you’ll like the results.

Hope you are having a fantastic summer. Enjoy the dog days of August!

It’s time to grow faster.

~Drew Schmitz

Twitter: @drew_schmitz

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