As a proud, but inveterate, INTJ — I have a philosophy of life that few people understand: “Be Blunt and Cruel, it Saves Time!” I never use that philosophy with others without permission. That philosophy is fully how I prefer to be treated, but few people are willing to abide the terms of what they perceive to be “rough language.”
Being “blunt and cruel” isn’t really about being blunt or cruel or mean or inconsiderate. It simply means to get to the point, don’t dilly-dally, and to speak the truth right from the start without any cushioning or support.
We are taught to preserve the feelings of others and that often leads to wiggle words that obfuscate real intention and meaning so one doesn’t appear overly aggressive or unkind. Transparency of intention is unwelcome by many people. I argue that wiggling with words is actually cruel and unusual punishment because you have to try to divine what a person is really saying because they won’t really say what they’re meaning.
My lovely wife has instructed me many times to “chat a bit” first on the phone or in email before getting to the point so both sides of the conversational dyad can “sync up” and share a common grounding. I always prefer to get straight to the point — “yes or no?” — and move on to the next thing. It actually took me many years to realize the general correction she was giving me was not really for other people, but for her. Now that I finally have that message in the marriage meme, I am always eager to start a conversation with how one is feeling or what one thinks about the weather.
With similarly minded INTJ friends like Nicola — there’s no weather or feelings dance — we just start right off with bluntness and cruelty, and we get a whole bunch more done throughout the day. I know Nicola won’t be insulted if I am direct with her and she knows the same thing about me. We get. We go. NEXT!
When I tell my book editors to be blunt and cruel because it saves times — they never go along with that request — I guess because that level of honesty is unbecoming to them, and they instead prefer to nibble around the edges of what they really want and I spend a lot of time trying to interpret what they really need.
I don’t mind editors re-writing or revising or changing my stuff to make it better. That’s their job. My job is to go along with the process and that’s why my personal philosophy actually fits the publishing business really well, even though few editors will admit that reality. Writing isn’t about the author. Writing is about making the writing better.