I figure if there were rules to talking in business they would be along these lines.
- Be concise –Keep it short and clear. Don’t repeat yourself, and use as many details as appropriate.
- Get to the point – If there is an overarching reason for this conversation it should come out immediately.
- No Jargon – Use real words with proper meanings (see pt.1 of this series)
- Make it matter – If what you’re talking about has something to do with the person that you are talking to, you should make the connection right after you get to the point.
- Sugar free – If there is something bad that you need to say, just say it, don’t BS, don’t sugarcoat.
And the one that I think almost everyone is guilty of:
- Don’t be a naysayer – Don’t disagree with people until you understand what they are talking about. Before you say “no-this is stupid” you should ask questions.
Now I know these are somewhat common sense, but let me share a real story.
I have a good friend; let’s call him Jim, who was laid-off soon after a glowing performance review. The same person who had reviewed him a few weeks back called Jim into his office and start ed off the conversation along these lines:
“Jim, imagine that you are a dog walker. You are an excellent dog walker, one of the best we have.
Well, Jim, your dog died. You don’t have another dog to walk and we obviously we can’t have you and Emily walking the same dog. “Emily is also a dog walker, not as good as you, but she knows her dog.
The conversation went on for another 5 minutes; my buddy then got a 2 week “severance package” and a pat on the back inspiring him to “go get em tiger!”
Now that’s a tough way to lay someone off after years of great service. To put this in context, though, my buddy was an investment banker and this happened in the 2008 crisis, and there were a lot of these layoffs – a lot.
This example has stuck with me for years. Is this a “good” way to lay someone off? Is this efficient and clear communication? I’ve given this a lot of thought, and I still don’t know. What do you think?
In the meantime here a is a nice collection of hilarious performance reviews that are very effective at communicating.