How To Be More Straightforward – Day 7

A number of years ago, through some manager or leadership training, I completed an Emotional Intelligence Assessment. The results were pretty interesting. As I looked over the results, across 10 competencies assessed, I felt it got me pretty spot on. One that really jumped out was a low score in straightforwardness. The ability to be more direct, to speak-up, and get your point across, when not fully comfortable doing so. Yep, that was me.

In a way, I knew this was an area for development, yet I wasn’t making a conscious effort to work on it. This 15-minute questionnaire and following report had the desired effect. It spurred me into action. I already had a strong understanding of the Emotional Intelligence framework and was aware that, with some effort and practice, these traits could be developed and honed to improve one’s overall EQ score.

A few years later, around the time I started out on my own executive and performance coaching journey, I took the EQ assessment again. The straightforwardness had improved over time. And while still not a signature strength, it was encouraging to know that the practice did actually make better.

Over the last 18 months, when coaching emerging leaders and managers, getting a baseline of their EQ is a great starting point. It’s interesting to find that this straightforwardness trait is one that comes in lower for many. Especially those that are, like me, a bit more on the introverted side. 

So, how can you be more straightforward & direct? While there are many obvious ways, like just asking more questions, and speaking up more, one I like to use with clients is a bit more measurable and objective. Let me (try to) explain how it works.

Let’s say you’re in a work meeting, and you want to ask a question or speak up, but you hold back, bite your tongue and the chance passes. You leave the meeting feeling like you missed an opportunity. How many times would this happen each day or week? Count them up, even get a rough number. From experience, clients could have up to 20 instances of this per week! Ok, this is your baseline.

Now, your goal is to notice this happening the following week and aim to reduce it. Set yourself a small reduction. Even 5 times less to start. And track it. This way you are able to measure it. You’ve gamified it slightly and you’re thinking less about the consequences of bringing the attention or spotlight on yourself. Which can be the root cause blocker to begin with. Give it a go for a few weeks and see how your behaviour changes.

Is this something that could work in your quest for a more direct and straightforward you? It’s one of a few approaches I’ve had success within coaching. And the feedback and impact are pretty great.

As with all of these approaches, practice is key.

Till tomorrow,


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Rob is a qualified Executive Coach (ICF) and has been Mentoring and Coaching over the last decade in various roles held during his career. In 2017, Rob launched the Rob of the Green Platform which hosts the 1% Better Podcast. Rob currently is a director of Project Management and Leadership Coaching at Dell in Cork, Ireland. Rob also publishes articles on productivity, leadership, goal setting, meditation, and other topics, like this one!

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