Speaking your mind and being honest reflect admirable traits. Blunt people do get their message across and leave little room for ambiguity. An outspoken person may stand out from meeker persons.

Leaders of all stripes have a tendency to be outspoken and bold.

Beware, though.

A very fine line exists between being outspoken and coming off as outright rude. Once you veer into the territory of rudeness, an outspoken nature becomes a vice.

Consider it important to understand how to be outspoken while not off-putting.

Don’t Harshly Criticize

Sometimes, the art of being outspoken involves getting across criticisms about the status quo. A person always in agreement with others isn’t exactly presenting an outspoken nature.

Constructive and targeted criticism — criticism with the intention of pushing for needed improvements — leads people to see things an outspoken person’s way. Harsh, purposeless criticism rooted in pure complaining turns people off.

In a job interview, if your behaviour gets flagged by the predictive index because of your rude nature, finding a good job will be a very difficult task for you.

Choose the Right Time

Be selective when choosing to be outspoken. Someone who’s always outspoken comes off as a blowhard.

Constantly bucking others and putting forth a strong, contrary opinion yields the law of diminishing returns. People just start to tune you out.

Exercise a little prudence when choosing to act in an outspoken way. Otherwise, people will roll their eyes when you open your mouth.

Choose Words Wisely

The type of words you use when speaking candidly can either sway people or offend them. Blunt language doesn’t necessarily require using harsh words.

Calling a strategy or plan “weak and potentially problematic” may be wordy, but a terse assessment of “lousy” could create troubles.

A poor choice of words puts others on the defensive.

The whole goal of taking an outspoken stance involves persuading others. Invoking a defensive response creates the opposite result of swaying opinions.

You want to build bridges when you speak. Don’t create barriers to relationships. Harsh words don’t exactly make developing strong relationships easy.

Utilize Non-Verbal Communications

Non-verbal communications can often be more effective than the spoken word. You gain a better understanding of how someone truly feels based on the look on his/her face or how rigid or relaxed the person stands.

Through learning solid non-verbal communications skills, you can use softer language while being no less assertive thanks to how you carry yourself.

Maintaining a calm and measured tone in your speech can be backed up by non-verbal strength. As with verbal communications, non-verbal communications can’t be too assertive or imposing.

Know When to Back Off

Pushing forward in an outspoken way against someone who pushes back sets the stage for a heated argument. There are times when an outspoken, forward approach makes sense.

And then there are times when you must back down in the face of resistance. Backing down too quickly and failing to stand your ground at the right time could project weakness.

There are other times, however, retreating serves a better purpose.

Success in life and business requires being strategic. At times, “standing down” makes perfect sense. Doing so also moves things forward in your favor. Don’t be too outspoken in the short-term at the risk of harming long-term goals.