The Art of Subtlety: Ignore It.

Subtlety is not your friend. It is a nice acquaintance to have, sometimes, in shrewd business negotiations, but on the whole it is not as handy as the world might have you think.

I am not a subtle person. My clothes, my hair, my over-exaggerated sense of bravado … no part of me is subtle. And I like it that way, because wouldn’t it be awful to be easily forgettable?

Here’s the thing – when (outside of business) has being subtle ever helped anyone? I’ve lost count of the amount of times a friend of mine has said to me “I keep dropping hints about (insert important event here), but my boyfriend just doesn’t get it.” Of course he doesn’t. He’s not a mind reader. Subtlety has no place in relationships unless you’re trying to find a nice way to tell your significant other that their mother is a raving bitch. This sort of ties in with the whole “saying ‘I’m fine’ when you’re really not” thing. 

Subtlety is also the reason a lot of people spend years completely in love with someone and waiting for them to notice. Are you daft? Someone will not notice you like them just because you put out vibes and try to make eye contact for more than two seconds (which, incidentally, can be just as easily misinterpreted as psychotic and murderous). We all know honesty is scary, but my best relationship got started because we were having a conversation in a bar and I grabbed him and kissed him. Brash? Yes. Absolutely fantastic? Also yes.

Subtlety doesn’t particularly behoove you in the professional world, either. Being meek and nodding a lot doesn’t say much except that you can’t think for yourself. I got my first job by telling the president of the agency that I was good at what I did, and he should give me a shot. I was a college student at the time and more than a little terrified, but I knew I couldn’t act like a scared kid, because he would see that. And no one wants to hire a scared kid. The truth is that you could say that at some places and not be given the time of day. But to me it was worth the risk, and the risk paid off. Cookie-cutter answers and polite small talk won’t get you anywhere. Having confidence in yourself and the cajones to say that you’re great is what opens doors. (Mind you, the first step to that is believing that you really are great. Which you obviously are).

The bottom line here is that subtlety is, in most cases, highly overrated. I’m not saying you should be frighteningly aggressive or anything – there is definitely a line between being frank and being on everyone’s most-hated list.

Just don’t whisper when you should be yelling at the top of your lungs.


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