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15 Things Only Blunt People Understand

15 Things Only Blunt People Understand

You’ve probably heard the expression “Be careful what you wish for,” and this is a good guiding principle to live by when dealing with a blunt person. If you want their opinion, you’ll get it. Straight from the hip and dead-center. Anyone with a reputation for being the blunt one in their family or group of friends knows that it’s alternately a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, people value your honesty; on the other, it’s a miracle you can ever tell anyone what you think because you’re often too busy chewing on your own foot. Here are fifteen things only blunt people can understand.

1. They hate long stories

If you’ve ever watched an episode of “The Golden Girls,” you’re probably familiar with Rose’s St. Olaf stories about the mule who skied backwards on buttermilk and the innumerable ways to cook herring. Inevitably one of the other girls—usually Dorothy—would interrupt to snap, “Get to the point, Rose!” Blunt people have no problem speaking their minds, so whenever someone else can’t come to the point quickly enough, they lose their patience, and they tell you pretty bluntly.

2. They apologize a lot

Bluntness can often be mistaken for rudeness or unfriendliness. When they make a less than flattering remark about a friend’s new outfit, it’s because they believe in the golden rule that friends don’t let friends leave the house wearing a skirt the color of cat vomit. The problem is that this well-meaning fashion advice isn’t taken all that well, so blunt people very often find themselves repeating “I didn’t mean it the way it sounded,” so often that they should just have it printed on a t-shirt or tattooed on their foreheads.

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3. They regularly insult people

Have you ever read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice? Do you remember Mr. Darcy’s first proposal to Elizabeth Bennet? When speaking of her irritating family relations, he could have said, “Your mother might want to learn to hold her tongue in company.” Of course, he instead had to say, “Did you expect me to rejoice in the inferiority of your connections? To congratulate myself on the hope of relations whose condition in life is so decidedly beneath my own?” (NO wonder she refused him). Blunt people have no problem telling you what they really think of you, even if (and often especially because) they love you and just have no clue how to get the words out. They don’t have the most control over their tongue at the best of times, so when passion overrides better judgement, you might want to invest in some serious body armor. It’s for your own protection.

4. They’re everyone’s favorite fashion consultant

You might not like it when they express distaste about your latest wardrobe choice, but that’s not going to stop you from dragging your blunt buddy to the mall when you cruise the latest sales. If you’re going to spend your entire paycheck on that new pair of jeans, it behooves you to make sure they don’t make your butt look like it deserves its own zip code. If you’d just taken your blunt friend shopping with you in the first place, you’d never have bought the cat vomit skirt.

5. They appreciate snark

If a blunt person is going to throw a verbal zinger at you, they’re going to enjoy themselves doing it. When you ask your boyfriend if he wants to see the new foreign film showing in theaters, and he knows that you know full-well that he doesn’t, why would he simply say “no thanks” when he can respond with “I’d rather inflict myself with a thousand paper cuts and take a bath in lemon juice”? This is a far more eloquent way to express both his abhorrence for the idea and his annoyance with you for even suggesting it.

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6. They’re hilarious when they’re drunk

Alcohol loosens people’s tongues, so can you imagine what it does to a blunt person? Think of that hysterically funny scene from “Liar Liar” starring Jim Carrey, when his office colleagues get him to reveal what he thinks of them. They think he’s teasing them, but he absolutely means it when he says of one of his coworkers, “Simmons is old. He should have been out of the game years ago but he can’t stay home because he hates his wife.” This is the blunt person after a few martinis. They probably won’t want to know what they said the next day about someone’s new husband or the glorified slime on a shingle calling itself pizza served at a party, and fortunately for them, they’re the blunt one, not you. You’ll never have the guts to tell them.

7. Their sincerity is rare and golden

Since people usually associate bluntness with sarcasm or negativity, a blunt person’s sincere kindness is sometimes all the more treasured because when they pay a compliment, they always mean it. I’m reminded here of an episode of “Will and Grace” in which Grace is (as usual) freaking out over an upcoming date and asks Will for last-minute advice. He replies with characteristic bluntness, “Keep your shoes on at the table, eat butter with bread, and if the server asks if you want fresh pepper, don’t ask if it’s free.” After a pause he adds gently, “and you look beautiful.” Since blunt people follow a strict code of honesty, you won’t catch them giving you an insincere compliment.

8. They show affection with bluntness

It’s been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but with a blunt person, it’s more likely to be a sarcastic comment that shows you how much they value you. This is because they know it takes a thick-skinned person to withstand their bluntness, so when you show up at a party and they say, “Did you mean to get a haircut that makes your head look like a salad bowl?” they might not love the haircut, but they definitely love you. They only say those things because they know you’re tough enough to handle it.

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9. They’re really uncomfortable around crybabies

Since the blunt like to use their friends’ egos for conversational target practice, they like to peg the overly-sensitive people in the group before they sharpen their tongue. The salad bowl haircut, the cat vomit skirt, the Mr. Darcy-like snark about your obnoxious relatives—they’re all the blunt person’s way of testing you in the fire to see if you can put up with it, and if you can’t take the heat, go home. Nobody likes to walk on eggshells, especially the blunt person, who’s probably about as adept at gingerly stepping over eggshells as a tap-dancing elephant. The truth is that they’re not doing this to be inconsiderate; quite the opposite. Blunt people don’t really want to offend anyone (who doesn’t deserve it) so they might toss a tactless remark or two at you just to see how hard it lands, and they’ll back off if they see it really hurts you.

10. They’re really confrontational

This is one of the occupational hazards of hanging around a blunt person. Their brutal honesty means they have no problem picking a fight. You probably cringe every time you have a meal out with them because you never know what complaint they’re going to make about the service. You might even have crawled under the table (or at least wanted to) whenever they come out with complaints like “Are they out back plucking the chicken for my salad? If I wanted to wait this long for my fried rice I’d have applied for a passport and gone to China.” You put up with it because half the time you wind up not having to pay for your dinner. The squeaky wheel gets free food.

11. They’re always willing to give a speech about you

Your blunt best friend is going to be the first one to roast you at your 40th birthday party. At your wedding, they’re going to sprinkle their toast with stories about the time you got drunk and danced with your cardboard cutout of Leonardo DiCaprio. As I’ve said before, this is their way of showing affection. They love these stories, and they love you for giving them entertaining conversation fodder. If they really thought it would humiliate you, they’d never say any of it.

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12. They say “I told you so” a lot

You probably ask blunt people for advice all the time because you know they’ll tell you the truth, whether it’s about the color of your new car or if they think your fiancé got your engagement ring from a gumball machine. You know better than to ask if you don’t want to know, so listen to them when they have the courtesy to say “I’ll tell you, but only if you really want the truth.” When you get insulted, you’ll deserve the “I told you so.” Grin and bear. You’ll get over it just in time to make the same mistake again.

13. They’re hard to communicate with over text or email

We’ve talked about the fact that blunt people tend to practice sarcasm like it’s an Olympic sport, but one of the things that makes sarcasm funny is context, specifically visual cues. If your best friend is smirking when she tells you that you’re so naive you’d probably trust the Devil with your credit card, she’s being affectionate. If she says this over text-message though and forgets the tongue-out emoticon face, the conversation might not end well. The emoticon was probably invented to diffuse the awkwardness of blunt conversations like this. When are the computer geniuses of the world going to invent a sarcasm font?

14. They always have to be introduced to new people with some type of disclaimer

Whenever you introduce the blunt person in your life to a group of friends, relatives, or colleagues who’ve never met them before, the introduction usually involves some obligatory statement along the lines of “I’m not responsible for anything she says. Especially if you give her alcohol. Her tongue is like a waterfall—a force of nature that there’s no point trying to stop.” It’s extremely important that you deliver this caveat with a healthy dose of humor and sarcasm to let others know that there’s more bark than bite to your blunt friend or partner’s remarks. This will mitigate the potential for hurt feelings later, and everyone at the company Christmas party will thank you for it.

15. They teach you to defend yourself

Sticks and stones may break your bones, but you’ll never have a bruised ego for long if you’ve spent enough time around a blunt person. The greatest advantage to knowing someone who calls it like they see it is learning to deflect harsh words with your emotional armor. Not everyone you meet is going to think you’re spectacular. We’re all vulnerable to criticism about our work, our personal quirks, our relationships, our appearances—you name it. Social scrutiny is a part of life, and if people didn’t point out our areas of weakness, we’d never grow. You can choose to crawl into a corner and lick your wounds, or you can indulge in a flair of indignation for five minutes and then get on with the rest of your life. As annoying as blunt people can be sometimes, they teach you the value of self-confidence in the face of ridicule.

Featured photo credit: young girl posing in the park via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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