Raised a female in the middle class protestant Midwest, being polite takes precedence over being direct. When I'd be direct and not "mince words," I came off as a bitch. When people code their language so as not to offend, a lot of times their message is misunderstood.
As a teacher I'd make people cry--why? Not because the things I'd say were unkind. Because I was honest and direct. Once I sat in a department meeting with a new teacher who kept insisting she couldn't make our monthly meeting--she either "had to teach aerobics or had to coach dance team." Finally I said, "What were you hired for here? To coach the dance team or to teach English? I believe your priority is the teaching contract which obligates you first to department work and second to extra-curriculars and your part-time job at the YMCA." She cried. I shrugged. By cutting to the chase, the drama around her meeting attendance ended and by calling a spade, a spade, I spared the rest of my department further argument about her meeting attendance.
When I spoke to parents, I'd tell them why their child would fail my class. I wouldn't say, "Paul needs to make more of an effort." That's vague. I'd say, "Paul needs to come to class, turn in ALL of his assignments, and participate in class discussions." Boom-boom-boom. Laid out like that, it's pretty difficult not to get the message.
I don't mince words with my children. "Pick up these toys." Period. No discussion. No requests. Clear. Direct. Concise.
I'll cut to the chase on a few topics:
*Roman Polanski, you are not a "fugitive" which implies fleeing from slavery or an oppressive government. You, Roman Polanski, are a rapist. You abused a child.
*Cheri at Blog This Mom writes eloquently on this topic. Go read her post.
*David Letterman, you did not "have an affair." You cheated on your wife. Thanking friends and family for "supporting" you implies they condoned your behavior. I think it's probably more accurate to thank them for "forgiving" you, or "not castrating" you
*Barak, asking the IOC to bring the 2016 Olympics to Chicago is greedy. America has hosted the Olympics twice in my lifetime, let's give Rio de Janeiro a turn. It's time for South America to be the host continent of this international event. Politicking aside, that is the only fair option.
* You need to read Mary Alice's post from yesterday because it is brilliant.
*To my son's teacher: complaining to me that he's struggling without suggesting a plan of action is merely complaining. Brushing aside my suggestions because you don't agree with them is unacceptable unless you have a different proposal. You're unprofessional, unhelpful and whiny. Shut up.
*To the parent who anonomously objected to our PTA fundraiser because the AVON catalog sells women's underwear and this offends your family values? Women wearing underwear seems more family-friendly and moral than women who do not. It was 3 pages out of a 100-page catalog, surely the bras and slips were more modest than the offerings in the Sears and JC Penny Christmas catalogs. But I'm not engaging in a debate with you. Anonymous complaints do not garner my attention so the PTA agreed to ignore you until you sign your name.
*Mr. B, when we go to the movie store and you want to rent a movie we already own, that is stupid. When you want to rent a movie that we've seen and agree is a sloppy retread (i.e. The Sandlot II), that is lame.
Spill it, reader. What's on your chest? Don't mince words. You don't have to be nice, polite or ladylike over here! I won't call you mean. I'll high-five you and call you refreshingly honest and direct.