When Forrest Gump spoke in Washington, DC in front of the Washington Monument reflecting pool to the Vietnam War protest, he concluded by saying, “And that’s all I’ve got to say about that.” Forrest used the same line when he concluded his story about serving in Vietnam while sitting on the park bench. The third and final time Forrest used the line is when he eulogized his mother. That line is a great example of straightforward communication.
Effective communication always includes straightforward communication. Good or bad, most individuals like hearing it straight. What we don’t like is beating around the bush or hidden agendas. Is your communication style straightforward? Does it make you uncomfortable to communicate in a straightforward manner? Do you sometimes take the ‘easy’ way out and beat around the bush?
Straightforward is characterized as simple and easy to understand. Straightforward does not use elaborate, grand or complicated designs. It is free of pretentiousness and deceit. Straightforward is sincere and humble. Simple ideas are more easily understood and remembered than complicated schemes. Straightforward, genuine and authentic communication is the key to effective communication.
Landmark Education teaches during their Communication Course that old styles of communication include: withholding, protecting, controlling, avoiding, defending, manipulating, forcing an outcome, resisting, convincing, changing, making it, prevailing, and getting certainty. If you have as a goal any of these styles of communicating, then you are not being straightforward. For example, it’s not straightforward if you are withholding something during a communication. And it’s not straightforward if you are trying force an outcome during a conversation.
An example of withholding could be when you ask your husband or wife what they want to do on Saturday night when you already have a specific plan in mind. Let’s pretend you want to go to see the movie Avatar. Then, if his or her plan doesn’t meet your plan, you are disappointed or hurt. He or she wanted to go to dinner with another couple. Wouldn’t it have been easier to be straightforward and just ask your spouse if they’d like to go to see Avatar in the first place? Of course, you do have to be willing to accept whatever choice they make to your suggestion. The point is, we don’t just come out and ask for what we want; we too often try to ‘back door’ our way into an outcome. This is called manipulation.
The same example could be called a forcing an outcome conversation. You want to go to see Avatar. But the conversation goes in a round about way of getting there. Your spouse prefers dinner with friends. There may be sulking or arguing to get your way. You are trying to force an outcome. But it’s mostly inauthentic because what you wanted was never actually clearly stated. It was another form of manipulation.
These examples occur regularly in relationships and encounters, whether personal or business. Think about the encounters you may have had with co-workers, employees or clients within your business that may have benefitted from a more effective communication plan. Does your organization believe in straightforward, direct communication? Do you personally walk the talk? Or do you and your organization play games? Are you secretive and engaged in hiding information that ultimately breeds distrust? Do others perceive you as manipulative? If the answer is yes, then you need a dose of straightforwardness Gump-style. Next time you have a conversation, try being straightforward, genuine and authentic. And that’s all I’ve got to say about that!
Next Blog Title: The Presidents that Forrest Gump Met
Next Blog Date: Monday, February 15, 2010