By Published On: October 16, 2014

Indirect communications. Here it’s called Minnesota Nice. It’s characterized by a smile and the right words, but possibly not the whole truth. There are probably terms for it elsewhere as well because indirect communications are common in every organization. Subjects are changed or avoided, anger masked and people circumvented, all to avoid a difficult situation. Sometimes it’s the benign desire to not step on toes or hurt feelings that will cause one to tell a little white lie, or avoid a difficult subject. Who really likes confrontation anyway? I know I don’t.

However, in business, indirect or passive aggressive communications can erode relationships, cause miscommunications and be downright destructive.

I’ve worked with clients most of my career, and I’m a people pleaser, so I struggle with direct communications too. When I first started managing client business I got this advice: deliver bad news quickly and directly, take responsibility and have a solution to recommend. It might be the single best piece of advice I’ve received.  Here’s the twist. The advice I got was from a client! I had put off telling them there was a problem with their project until it delayed their project. I had told them things were on track hoping a solution would magically appear – I obsessed about it and it ruined my weekend – plus when I did fess up, it made them angrier. They didn’t have a chance to fix the issue in time to make the mail date.

You can make yourself miserable and turn an issue into a bigger deal by putting off the inevitable, or you can pull off the Band-Aid and deal with the situation. Either way it won’t go away.  Direct communications can sting because not everything is easy in business and we don’t always agree. However, if it’s respectful, it will help build relationships.

So go out there and do business. Be nice to each other – truly nice – thankfully that’s the Minnesota way too, and please make your business communications direct.

About the Author: Megan Devine

Megan Devine
Megan taps into her left-brain logic and right brain creativity—steering the business, bantering with her team, and strategizing on client work. She says it’s her dream job and we believe her. Using her passion and knack for understanding complex connections in business and marketing, she collaborates to create love between brands and customers. She possesses expertise and experience that only comes from persevering in the ever-changing marketing agency world. Megan co-founded d.trio marketing group, now cat&tonic, in January of 2000 and took sole ownership in 2019. Her vision, support, and sheer stubbornness got us through 9/11, the great recession, and a pandemic. She has judged the International ECHO Awards since 2005, has consulted for several organizations, and serves on several boards. Educated at Carleton College, she learned the importance of critical thinking for success. At home she learned the value of a good story.
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