Management and Consulting Services

Say What You Mean; Do What You Say

7/20/2012

2727124In these days of political correctness, a tendency (“temptation”) persists to tell a client (C-level, company officer, boss, board member, work associate, spouse, child, etc.) certain things in certain ways that “soften” reality.  Certainly the style and timing of messages have to be taken into account to best manage the outcome, sequence the progress, frame next steps, and so on.

However, at times when I’ve done this or encountered it, I’ve become critical of some level of incompleteness, insincerity or perhaps even a bit of conflict-avoidance.  With experiences come:

  • street-smarts,
  • a gut-level sense of what ought to be done,
  • when,
  • and how best to communicate it.

I have walked away from such conversations and then returned to say, “you know Mr. Client/boss/subordinate…what is…or…here is…the “rest of the story.”  In addition to the report I submitted, and the discussion we had, you also need to know this…and what its impact really is.”  Time after time I found myself returning to the meeting room or conversation to add the essence, the key items, the “hard stuff,” my opinions, and the culprit(s).  Apologies to Clint Eastwood, but there’s typically, “the good, the bad, and the ugly” that have to be discussed…and acted upon.

I have significantly reduced how many times I do it the indirect way.

People want the real story, and they hire people (most of the time) to get the VALUE of their: knowledge, experience, tenure, maturity, perspective, guidance, opinion, ideas.  When “we” don’t provide those things directly, we shirk our responsibility, modulate our contributions, reduce our impact, even prolong the inevitable.  We can carefully choose how we say what we know and recommend, but we must say it, and give the full impact to the receiver.

Quite frankly, that’s ultimately “what they needed, and what they paid for.”

So, let’s “politically” modify our own behavior to ensure we get/give the most complete value we can, and not sugar-coat it in platitudes, excuses, or tweaks that delay or minimize the full effectiveness and merit of that value.  That’s just the responsible thing to do.  If “they” don’t listen or act on it, that’s their choice, but we have therefore not contributed to inaction because of being indirect.

That’s my resolution.