deya & tamar

Tamar Braxton and Deya Smith

The news is still buzzing, so many rumors including if the fired Tamar Braxton was #Teamtoomuch on the hit talk show “The Real.”

Yes, we love a little drama, the hashtags, a little “bonquisha” aka ghetto girl and keeping it real and raw like some good hip hop and R& B every now and again. But there is a time and a place for everything. Know the difference.

In the case of Tamar, The Daily Mail reports that the research from the focus group was also a major factor in the decision to fire Braxton. Apparently, she doesn’t score well with educated women.

‘The focus group research showed that most educated and working women did not identify with Tamar’s show vernacular and her use of words known to be popular among drag queens and some gay men – phrases like “Get your life,” “Where they do that at?” and “Have several seats.”

‘The research went on to say that most educated and working women found her to be ‘ghetto’ and that her aggressive eye-rolling, neck-rolling and the smacking of her mouth were indicative of ‘stereotypical behavior that African American women have worked years to overcome,” the source continued.

Reportedly, The Real’s executive producer used the focus group findings, on-set insubordination and the sales team issues about advertisers not wanting Braxton in their segments to convince Warner Bros. to give Braxton her walking papers. This is a great reminder that regardless of how fabulous you think you are, everybody is dispensable. Today is a good day for an attitude check.

On a personal note, I’ll share this: I don’t know what her interaction was with producers on that show, however, when I conducted an interview with her on when she came to the Tom Joyner Morning Show, to my surprise she was humble and a pure delight. So much so that when I offered to carry her things she said, “Oh no boo, I am not like that. I’m not Hollywood that way, you don’t have to carry things for me.” She went on to share later how she was working hard to improve her communication with others because she had gotten so much criticism about her style, including from her siblings. So imagine my surprise about recent reports, since I know she was being intentional about improving her communication style.

So whether the rumors are true or not, the lesson of upgrading how we speak to and engage with others should not be lost on any of us.

Now, beyond Tamar, the question and perhaps lesson for us all is what skills and strategies do you have in your communication arsenal? Is it enough or even appropriate to always be on 10, in your feelings and to tell it like it is?

Everything is not for Everyone
You can be college educated, an executive, and also be the home girl from around the way. As women, professionals, mothers, wives, sista-girls, bae and more; we are used to wearing different hats and switching over at the drop of a dime to execute the tasks at hand. Most of us absolutely have the skills. We simply need to appropriate them in the right setting. For example, you’re not going to talk to your man like you would your girlfriends, or speak to your boss like you would your child, or at least you shouldn’t, not if you want to be effective.

Sometimes the concept of “I shouldn’t have to change who I am” is overrated and taken too literally. It’s not about changing the core of your soul or your personality to fit in. It’s more about being proactively engaged in personal and professional growth. Everything is not for everyone. And yes, when it comes to the big picture (like sponsors), some things are bigger than you.

Who Are You Talking To?
The key is to identify the five rules of good communication: who, what, when, where and why. You must identify who you are and who is receiving your message. Then be clear on what your message is. When is the right time to share it? Where are you trying to go? And why is it important? Let those guide you. Sometimes it’s not a matter of if you have a right to speak your mind. It’s like the old folks say, it’s not always what you do but how you do it — tone and timing make a world of difference.

As black women, we constantly set the pace and reinvent ourselves in the media. And when it comes to how we communicate, I believe it’s time for some rebranding and for us as black women to diversify our communication portfolios. We must be more savvy in our approach for the big picture. That means sometimes it really is okay not to prove how right you are in every situation. Ask yourself, do I want to be right or do I want to be happy? If happy is your answer, then sometimes it’s better to keep the peace.

Now the average smart, independent black woman may feel like she shouldn’t have to compromise. But I believe that knowing how to tailor your approach is ‘having game’. It’s sophistication and using your soft power. Are we passionate? Yes, but there is a difference between being aggressive and assertive. How we engage verbally and non-verbally, have a great deal to do with how we are received. Communications 101 teaches that you must know your audience in order to reach them and be effective. So yes, you absolutely should make adjustments to fit who you are talking to. Anything less can easily be considered uneducated, unsophisticated, lazy and egotistical.

Grow Up
Changing how we communicate can be challenging. Like with any skill being developed, you work on it by practicing. It’s like being in the gym, when exercising, any muscle that is worked out the most will be stronger. When building muscle, start slowly, allowing your body time to adjust, and then gradually add more weight as you become stronger. In weight training, anything that causes resistance will feel uncomfortable, so this may be a good time to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. The more you work at it, the stronger you will become.

I remember the words of Radio Hall of famer and my boss Tom Joyner, when I once reminded him that I come from the ‘hood and threatened to go rogue with Vaseline on face, ready to scratch out the eye balls of the haters – that is, until he sent me from a turned up 100% to a turned down 0% real quick (and in that order) when he wisely said, “But you’ve evolved, right?”

Well, maybe I needed the standard raised in that moment. Some people have the skills and tools to fight without violence. Today, I can thankfully say that I do too. That’s my real. I invite the everyday chick, the sophisticated diva and any and every celebrity to join the journey of exploring the soft approach since we already have the hard approach mastered – real talk, real life lessons, real growth equates to real, authentic and undeniable feminine power!

To my girl Tamar, this painful situation may be a real life lesson and a real time blessing in disguise. What’s for sure, is that she is a star and I fully expect that she will continue to shine bright.

Known as the ‘Man Whisperer’, Best Selling Author, Producer and Relationship Expert Deya “Direct” Smith writes and produces commentary for your heart, mind and soul. She is also a lead producer for the Tom Joyner Morning Show, a motivational speaker, actress and social commentator. She can be reached directly at .

Her new book Soft is the New Power: Embracing Your Feminine Edge to Win in Love & Life is available for sale now at

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