Be precise, be specific and be blunt

I‘ve just asked you not to over explain, so this may seem a little contradictory. But, please, please, be precise, be specific and be blunt:

  • start a conversation with a little background – for example, say “Eric, remember last Friday when we discussed…”
  • always use names instead of pronouns – say “Jack wrote it” not “he wrote it”
  • use titles instead of nouns – say “I read The Cat in the Hat” not “I read a book”
  • use dates – say ”Thursday, September 8th” not  “next week” or “next Thursday” or “very soon”
  • use real-life examples to illustrate instead of speaking in generalities
  • provide links or copies of any text you refer to
  • speak your mind, politely but bluntly – take a stand

Why? I don’t know what you were thinking 10 seconds before you started talking. I don’t want to guess what you’re referring to, I want to know. And I want to know without asking you. It’s not efficient or fun for me to ask you what you’re talking about.

Without precise communication, there is too much room for error.  And errors, presumptions, and miscommunication can be very costly. So please give me the material I need to follow along – give me names, titles, dates, links, documents, and examples!


I speak schmooze, spin, evasion, bull, and plain old common sense

And please be blunt. Half the time what you thought you said was not heard. The other half, you’re perceived as timid or manipulative. Speaking directly may be a little uncomfortable for both of us, but it’s an unavoidable side of life and business.  Not addressing the difficult issues and not asking difficult questions allows issues to fester and grow and breaks trust. Show you care by telling the truth clearly and politely.

Confusion is expensive and demoralizing and avoidable. It always reflects badly on us whether you’re the culprit or the victim or we’re working as a team to create confusion. Is that clear?

Get the ebook! If you liked what you read here, and think you may want to refer back to this guide later, grab the Kindle version – we’re hoping you’ll thank us with a five-star review on Amazon if you found this material helpful. The ebook also includes our job search guide.

For comprehensive advice on the entire job search process, read our complete guide to landing a job at a great company or visit our career advice hub.

< previous  work-smart  next >



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • This was a very informative article. In starting a professional conversation, there’s a lot that you have to conciously think about in speaking to a superior or coworker. Ensuring that you use names instead of pronouns, and exact dates as to when things happened increases your credibility and allows for a lessened chance for a misunderstanding. Politely speaking your mind allows for your message to get across, without stepping over any boundaries. I currently work in the Undergraduate Office of Admissions at my school, the University of Central Florida, where I have to communicate with my boss in order to successfully complete what’s expected of me. These aspects all allow for this communication to make both of our jobs easier, and effective.

  • Working at a fast food restaurant employees should keep in mind to be precise, specific, and blunt when helping their guest. Back at home I work at Culvers. This is a fast food establishment which provides great customer service and hospitality. When taking the customers order you have to have patience but along with that your job is to be very specific when asking what would they like to order such as; a combo, condiments on a burger, what type of dipping sauce, what type of beverage, etc. When being precise with your guests, all of your attention should be directed towards them so that you can process their order in a timely manner. When you hear the word blunt you may think of being “rude”, but in this case its more so “straight to the point”. Being blunt at a fast food facility can contribute to the workers because they are on a time limit when it comes to taking the order, receiving the payment, and giving out the correct order. Throughout my job experience I realize that being precise, specific, and blunt can go along way.

  • This article is spot on! While I have always been a person that was blunt with my words ,and always straight to the point, I struggled with being able to articulate exactly what I wanted. Often times the point I was attempting to get across was not always fulfilled due to me not being able to articulate my words effectively.
    I am now much better with being specific, precise, blunt, and articulate with my words. I grew up in a house where a child would not be given specific instructions. The instructions were always general given by the adult, and the child had no choice ,but to follow these general instructions hoping to have understood what was being told.
    I am sure my ability to struggle with being specific verbally stemmed from this upbringing, but nevertheless, I learned what area I struggled in, and now I cant be stopped!! LoL.. Thank you for sharing!!

  • One of the greatest lessons I have learned in college is that careful and precise communication is an extremely valuable skill. As a current college student, I have found these tips are extremely useful in important communications with professors, graduate students, and other undergraduates to convey my message in a way that is respectful of their time, and allows us to have a positive interaction.

    Thank you for the reminders of how to successfully and respectfully communicate with others!

  • Learning this lesson has made a world of difference in my ability to communicate with others. Not only that, but when I communicate precisely, specifically, and bluntly, it makes me feel more confident when talking to others, because I am not being vague — I feel more assured with myself because I know what I am talking about. Furthermore, adding in specific details in conversation makes one more memorable, which is important when networking. Not only that, but applying details about my academic and professional background gives me credibility. I have learned many of these lessons in both formal and informal settings — from making professional connections to simply making friends.

  • Being precise, specific, and blunt are all important keys to have successful communication. First, is important to be specific. If you are not specific to whomever you are speaking with, words can accidentally be misconstrued or taken in opposite of what you originally intended. And when this happens, I am pretty sure everyone knows that it cannot be good from there.

    Being Precise ties in with being specific because they both are no more and no less. Meaning what is said, is exactly what it means with no hidden or subliminal messages. In my opinion, if you can not blend your preciseness with your specificness, you will most likely never relay a clear message. But again, that is my opinion and that is what I think because in today’s time there are so many resources to help you with clearer communication. Most of the time people do not take advantage of these resources and end up not being understood or feeling like they are never being understood, which can lead to low self esteem. I know because I have been there.

    Lastly, and not that it is less important because it is just as important as the first two we have discussed. Being blunt. Most people feel like if they are blunt they are being rude. This is not the case. There is a way to be blunt, respectful and caring at the same time but it does take some practice. Once you master how to be blunt you will know how to do it in a way that will get your point across without offending the person you are talking to.

  • The importance of clearly explaining the context and specifics of a situation are absolutely imperative in personal life or a professional environment. I will use a personal example and professional example to illustrate this important quality.

    The experience of being in a relationship with a significant other and falling victim to the folly of not clearly stating feelings or plans is for too common of a happening. My last relationship was no exception. Looking back on my three year relationship, nearly every single problem we had was due to assumption. Everyone has heard the annoying cliche: “assuming makes an ass out of you and me”. Never ever assume, and never allow others to make the mistake of assuming either. Clearly state the context, the purpose, and the feelings involved. This will ALWAYS alleviate problems.

    I run the ski and snowboard club at my University and we struggle with communication. Our perception to the school community was hurt a couple of weeks ago because of lack of specificity. We were running an event that had slightly confusing pricing, and I failed to explain the pricing specifically in exact dollars for exact people, and the individual in charge of media released the wrong prices. We had to charge different prices at the door because of a mistake of poor, general communication, and this tainted our credibility to the university students.

  • Communication is vital to any organization or company. Being specific and precise is crucial when delivering information to a customer, coworker, manager, or what have you, because it can either benefit or hurt you. Writing research papers is a great example and a related experience that I run into all the time as a student. I need to be as specific as possible, provide examples and cite my sources throughout my papers to enhance and strengthen my argument.

  • I constantly struggle with this at work, coming off as timid or shy, but recently I’ve gotten a lot better at being assertive and showing my confidence. In the beginning it was definitely hurting my work as far as raises or promotions because I considered myself to be one of those people who let their work speak for itself and I was constantly trying to prove myself through my work when all I had to do was speak up and when I did, a lot changed for me, for example, I’m a hostess and I used to long to fill the restaurant instead of just being the restaurant filler’s flunky because I knew I could just a good of job probably even better than the restaurant filler. Once I spoke up and showed expertise about filling up a restaurant, the managers watched closely and a couple of days later I got a phone call asking me if I wanted a promotion. Being precise, clear and specific in the workplace is-I would say-the number one way to get ahead of the game.

  • I really like this post. it really is true that we need to speak up and if it hurts you then it is ok. THE TRUTH HURTS!

Skip to content