Perspectives on directness


I’ve met someone today. In the waiting room of the ENT doctor where I spent an entire two hours waiting since some sort of epidemic seems to have possessed the city. Mine is funny, I can talk but barely swallow or laugh without my throat feeling like being struck by a grater.

However, as I said, I’ve met someone. He has full blonde hair, big blue eyes and is pretty cute. He owns a rad as Formula 1 racing car and a matching cordless screw driver and he carries both with him at all times. His name is Paul. Paul is about 4 years old. He actually got me thinking about the pros and cons of straightforwardness and my views on it.

Paul’s mother obviously came to see the doctor with him. At some point, she left the waiting room and asked him to stay there. He kept screwing and unscrewing the tires of said rad as car and then suddenly stared at me and said ‘I got this for Christmas. From Santa!’ Of course, I acknowledged this information with the due enthusiasm and went on about how cool Santa was for delivering this portable screwdriver (I mean, I had to live up to 30 before I got my first portable screwdriver!) but Paul was pretty unimpressed with my remarks. He kept working on his car in silence, then looked around, stared at me again and said ‘There are only two chairs for children in here, but seven for adults!’ And he was right! And there wasn’t even a question behind it, it was just an observation. A few screw-on, screw-offs and the world-changing information that the car is green later, I felt the stare again. He looked at me and said ‘When is Mum coming back?’ I said she would probably be back soon and asked him where she went. ‘To the loo’ was the short answer. But he still stared so I felt obliged to say ‘Well, if she only just went to the bathroom, she will be back real soon’. Paul looked at me with great disapproval and said ‘No, she is taking a shit. This will take LONG!’ Well, what can I say? He was probably right and straight to the point! And I’m sure his Mum would have really appreciated that he gave me this detailed information on her digestive process!

I wish Paul was 30 years older – he would have been right up my alley. I mean, of course, I would be slightly confused – not by the screw driver, mind you! – but by the green rad as Formula 1 car. Not my style really. But I love it when people are straightforward and don’t beat around the bush with their opinion.

When I started my intercultural studies (which mainly means getting drunk with people from different countries) though, I discovered that straightforwardness is really a cultural thing. Not only internationally, even within Germany there are certain differences. We here in the Ruhr area are said to be pretty direct and straightforward. In other parts of the country this is not the case apparently. But the international differences are more obvious. While we in Germany tend to just spit it all out the English-speaking countries seem to go for the more diplomatic or indirect approach. And I can tell you, it’s not easy for me to notice then that in fact something is really wrong. My Kiwi friend once said that I was brutally honest. Am I? Sure, sometimes I have wished that I would have just kept my opinion to myself. But even when I try, the look on my face gives it away. My teacher in high school already told me this. In Spain for example I noticed that everybody is always friendly but when you turn your back, they are slagging you off. The Asian culture is a total myth to me because they always seem to be friendly. But is this better?

For me personally, it would be the best if people were just always straightforward. I mean, you don’t have to be impolite but just say what’s on your mind! I believe I can live with nearly any truth, much better than with something which I do not really understand!

And I hope for Paul that he keeps his open approach. I hope that nobody ever tells him that his opinion does not matter. And I secretly hope that he keeps the portable screwdriver, too!

So what is your experience – is it better to be straightforward or beat around the bush?

Yours truly, madly, deeply and today also hoarsely!


All photos used in this blog are mine unless stated otherwise. Feel free to use them if you like, but be decent and link to this site!


10 thoughts on “Perspectives on directness

      • She just met him once, and that was before we got together. It was a different situation. They never met afterwards. She could have told me that she had a “strange feeling” or something like that – she could have said it in a different way. There was no need whatsoever to tell me that she didn’t like him.

  1. I’m going to get straight to the point here. I really enjoyed this post. 😀 And I’ve always appreciated your directness, as someone who also has a tendency to let my thoughts on a subject be known in an equally direct approach.

  2. I noticed the extreme opposite when I was in England last. It was November 24, 21 years to the day that Freddie Mercury passed away, what with me being a hardcore Queen fan, Fleur and I took a trip to London to his house to pay tribute. We also met up with a few friends from the “FM Montreux Memorial Meeting” who were also there for the same reasons. Soon word got out Brian May would be playing an Intimate gig in the “Doncaster Hotel” on the same evening. Off to the doncaster we ran! upon arriving, it was clear this is a 6 star Hotel on Park Lane. Not letting that deter me, in I went, to have a nose! I could hear some girl singing in the background, but it was clear i couldnt go any further. Then a guy in a suit approaches me.. “have you got something to drink Sir?” That instantly made me smile! I’m there in grey winter Jacket and a pair of blue jeans with my burgandy red boots on, surround by millionaires in suits and i’m spoken to as if i fit perfectly into the picture!…. me: “er… No, i’d actually caught wind that Brian May would be playing an intimate gig here tonight and was trying to find out where it is? any ideas?” he then informs me that he head of security and get briefed for the days plan and has heard no such plans for such an event. he then goes on to make small talk about his admiration of Brian May’s efforts to keep their music alive after Freddies passing and eventually wishes me the best of luck and a pleasant evening. I think that had to be the most indirect and polite way i’ve EVER ushered out of somewhere i wasn’t supposed to be!

    • Thanks Aaron, for reading and commenting :-). Yes, being polite IS good, I’m not saying it’s good to be rude! But it probably is a cultural thing, too, because if this had happened to me, I probably wouldn’t have noticed that he was trying to get rid of me! I would have been like ‘yeah, thanks, where is that drink you were talking about?’ 😉

  3. Yesterday my wife and me had to go to a birthday party. Dome 50 persons were around. As I really abhor gatherings of more than a handful of people, dislike the talking of to many persons in the same room , hating small talk, it must have to be visible in my face since my wife told me “Don’t you think that loud!”
    I prefer the direkt aproach. Political correctness is something I absolutely dislike. But before being unpolite or offending I will rather remain silent – although I fear my face will give me away.

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