S:0415 Distinction: Strong vs. Harsh

(Distinctions are subtleties of language that, when gotten, cause a shift in a belief, behavior, value or attitude.)


This distinction is about how you correct someone s behavior. Whether it s an employee, a vendor, your child or a friend, correcting someone s behavior requires skill.

Nobody likes a namby-pamby speaker. People who give directions in a weak manner are not fully heard. (If you have a tough time being direct with people, that is the subject of a different — actually several different — S3MC s.)

To be direct with someone does not mean being harsh. You re harsh when you are severely critical, sound punitive, even jarring. It s mainly about your tone and intent. At some level, conscious or not, harsh-acting people have the intent to hurt the person they are talking to. If that s your intent, then go ahead and be harsh.

If what you really want is to have the person you re talking with learn, change and grow, then learning to speak strongly to them is preferable. Be clear, say what you really want, don t hold back, but watch your intent. You don t have to be loud to be strong. Your intent will be demonstrated in your tone.


Copyright 2003 Steve Straus. All rights reserved.