People Skills Secret to Success: Uninvited Bluntness Loses

People skills give your occupational skills the power to succeed with others.  You can have tremendous expertise in any field and yet fall short of your goals if your behavior offends others. 

One of the worst people skills mistakes is to presume that bluntness is acceptable to others.  Bluntness must be invited.  It is based on trust.  When you assume it’s OK to be blunt, you are demanding trust instead of first building trust. 

Professionals with great people skills use caring honesty instead of bluntness.  Over time they build trusting relationships that may invite and allow bluntness (an emotion filled perspective).

Here is a recent true story. It illustrates what happens when you throw out all professional people skills and use uninvited bluntness.  What’s your view on the effectiveness of the email below?

People Skills: Image is the word TRUST

People Skills Secret to Success: Uninvited Bluntness Loses

Image by: Sweet Dreamz Design via Flickr Creative Commons License.

People Skills: Uninvited Bluntness – Wins or Loses?

Here’s what happened today to a very accomplished graphics designer.  She, by the way, has outstanding people skills as well as masterful graphics ability.  She is very successful, widely respected, and highly ranked in her field and on social media.  A PR pro approached her via email suggesting that some of her own clients might want to use the graphics designer’s services.  Here’s the email.

“Dear _____. I dropped by your site again tonight and noticed you did a little housekeeping. Brava! When I visited the other website you sponsor, it’s hardly professional, has extremely low traffic ranking, and is horribly designed.

For the high quality of work you do, I wouldn’t associate you with such a clearly amateur site.  And I’m not certain if I’d mentioned it previously but at least for the sake of page load time, it would benefit you greatly to redo your site into a WordPress CMS. It would load faster and lay out on multiple pages and increase your site page hits. You already have the graphics and while you’re the graphics specialist, I’m the web girl. Talk to me if you want to fast forward to much easier website management for yourself on the back end. It would also make for a better experience for your visitors.

I have clients that may want to use your services.

Thank you.”

People Skills Related Questions

  1. What would you think of the PR pro if you received this email?
  2. Does this PR pro sounds like a “pro” to you?
  3. What is this pro’s main message?
  4. How effectively does she deliver the message?
  5. Would you want to connect and work with this person?

People Skills Rewrite

What if the email were worded this alternate way …

“I dropped by your main site tonight. Your graphics design work is outstanding. I see your graphics genius throughout your portfolio. I have great ideas for you on improving the performance of your websites regarding layout, viewing ease, and load time. Let’s combine your graphics expertise with my “web” know-how. I can also make the back-end website management easier and help you create an even better experience for your visitors.

I do have clients that may want your graphics design services and would love to talk to you soon. Is Monday a possibility?

Truly looking forward to it! Thank you.”

People Skills Principles That Win

  • Find out if someone wants your tough advice before you give it.
  • Speak the negative as positive improvements. This shows you to be helpful not critical.
  • Use confidence; it sustains others. Avoid arrogance; it burdens others.
  • Civility and tact don’t weaken a message; they help others embrace it.
  • Allow for differences of opinion. Stating opinion as fact makes you seem closed-minded and boorish.
  • Show basic respect to all. Patronizing adults weakens your influence.

The first email patronizes the graphics designer by applauding her website clean-up. That’s like saying to someone, “I see you cleaned your house. Bravo.” She calls the graphics designer’s second website amateurish and then offers help. This broadcasts a desire for power not the ability to collaborate.

People skills give your occupational skills the power to succeed with others. That’s far better than trying to seize power. Here’s to success through great people skills!

From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™

Related Post:
7 Steps from Brutally Blunt to Helpfully Honest

©2013-2020 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. I appreciate your sharing the link to this post on your social streams. However, if you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please email Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.

Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.

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8 Responses to “People Skills Secret to Success: Uninvited Bluntness Loses”

  1. Kimb Manson says:

    Great article Kate, love it! Hard to believe there are people who believe they can operate a business this way.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      When I was first sent the email as an example of bad people skills, I imagined the author with a head so swollen they wouldn’t be able to stand up straight. Such arrogance and simultaneous incompetence. Phew …

      Great example for a blog post though right?

      Thank you Kimb!!

  2. Khalid says:

    Creative post as usual Kate 🙂

    That wasn’t a help at all! That’s so arrogant and impolite way of offering help!


    • Kate Nasser says:

      Exactly Khalid. The first email was filled with arrogance, presumption, and a total lack of emotional intelligence. Hard to believe someone actually sent that email .. but they did!

      Thank you for your input here.

  3. AJ Borowsky says:

    Kate sometimes there is a place for bluntness but I think it’s rare and there is a difference between blunt and rude, between blunt and insulting. The second email example is neither blunt nor rude and is an excellent example of doing it right. Great post.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Hi AJ,
      Hey thanks for adding even more dimension to this post. It is possible to be blunt w/o being rude although I believe you still need an invitation first. Most uninvited bluntness risks being interpreted as rude/insulting. Words matter of course so there is a slight chance it could fly fine yet I wouldn’t try it or bet on it without being invited.

      So pleased you like the rewritten 2nd email.

      Grateful for your input here.

  4. Paul Dean says:

    hi Kate, in my opinion being brutally honest with someone doesn’t change them they just think it’s you that has the problem. you need rapport, trust and emotional intelligence.

  5. Paul Foster says:

    This is a great topic. I wonder if being “respectfully assertive” was replaced by the concept of being “blunt”. The word blunt itself implies some kind of ego attachment with it. It would be the same important communication, just a different way of approaching it.

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