9 Reasons You Should Quit Dropping Hints and Just Use Your Words Already

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There’s a balance between being polite and being assertive. We’re expected to not be demanding or selfish, but neither are we supposed to be too meek. It can be a never-ending minefield of questions and social missteps to try to find the balance.

A lot of us try to work around this problem by speaking politely and hoping that our body language, or unsaid words, or facial expressions, will convey what we really mean. But whether you’re hinting to your neighbor to sweep their driveway (by energetically sweeping your own in front of them) or hinting to your boss that it’s time for a pay raise (by handing in your work early, with a big, ingratiating smile), here’s why that approach doesn’t usually work and why you need to start speaking up instead:

The-Message-Is-Too-SubtleOllyy / Shutterstock

1. The Message Is Too Subtle

Is there a reason you’re trying to drop hints, rather than just coming out and saying what you want to say? If you’re trying to convey a message you feel is too delicate to be verbalized, it may also be too complex for significant eyebrow raises, nudges or overly-emphasized gestures.

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2. The Means Is Too Subtle

You may think you’re being crystal clear, but that’s because you already know (a) that you’re trying to get a message across, and (b) what that message is. You may think that leaving an internet tab open to that one online shopping item is just screaming “My birthday is in only five months! Buy this!” but chances are your partner will have no idea that your interest is anything more than fleeting.

The-Message-Was-MisunderstoodGoran Djukanovic / Shutterstock
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3. The Message Was Misunderstood

Maybe your partner (or friend, or child, or parent, or co-worker) was able to figure out that you were trying to say something – but they didn’t figure it out exactly right, especially if #1 and #2 apply. Everyone’s time and sanity could’ve been spared if you’d just asked for what you wanted.

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