Saturday, October 18, 2014

Watch Your Language

Ever since Freud made a fetish of what he called free association, people have concluded that spontaneous communication was the most authentic.

Say what’s on your mind. Be open, honest and shameless. At the least, it would rid your mind of mental toxins, thereby opening you for better communication.

Experience in the workplace tells us—if we did not know already—that spontaneous speech acts are often counterproductive. No matter heartfelt it is, no matter how thrilling you find it, no matter how dramatic it sounds, if you say the wrong thing in the wrong way you will damage your prospects for career advancement.

Of course, some people can say the right thing without having to think very much about it, but if you are trying to learn how to say the right thing you will normally have to begin by thinking before you leap.

In truth, the advice will help you in all areas of human communication. If you are more thoughtful, more respectful of the feelings of the other person, more judicious with the way you phrase things… you will do better in the world because you will get along better with others.

Jacquelyn Smith explains it in Business Insider:

"It's important to be cautious with what you say to your boss, as even the slightest slip up could make or break your career," says Ryan Kahn, a career coach, founder of The Hired Group, and author of "Hired! The Guide for the Recent Grad." "There are the obvious things to hold back from saying to your boss, but the key is to dissect the little things in your interactions." 

Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of " Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job," agrees. "There are certain comments and questions based on negative perspectives that can set you back with your boss," she says. "If they continue unabated, these phrases can sabotage an otherwise great job." 

A good practice is to first pause before blurting out something you might regret and examine what you're trying to achieve, and the likely reaction you'll get from your boss.

"If you think you may regret it, you probably will," she says. "Better to err on the side of waiting until you can crystallize your thoughts into a more palatable and professional dialogue."

You should not be thinking that you need to blurt out what you have on your mind. You should be thinking of what you want to accomplish and of how best to get there.

What do the experts advise?

Many of the phrases that Smith tells you not to use express a negative attitude. You should not say that you can’t do what you are being asked to do. You should not say that it’s not your job or not your area of expertise. You should not say that the task impossible. You should not say that you don’t know. And you should never say No.

All of these negative phrases make you appear to be contradicting your boss and challenging his judgment. It’s not the way to succeed in business.

For all you know, your boss is testing you. He is trying to see how well you function when faced with a new and more difficult challenge. He might be thinking of giving you more responsibility.

Do you still want to question his judgment?

Smith offers a number of other phrases that should never pass your lips. I recommend that you remove these from your language altogether. Like negativity, they are not likely to make you friends or influence people.

You should not say: I’ll try.

It implies that you lack confidence and are anticipating failure.

You should not ask what’s in it for me.

It implies that you are in it for yourself, not for the greater good of the company.

You should not say that you did your best.

If  you failed at your job, you should, Smith explains, apologize, but should not shift the blame. If you say that you did your best you are suggesting that the task was not doable. What you are really saying is that your best was not good enough.

But, if your best was not good enough, then your boss misjudged you. Do you really want to leave that impression?

Moreover, your goal should be to do the best, not your best. You should be aiming to do better than everyone else, to be a fierce competitor, not a whiner who tells the world that his best is inadequate.

Among other pieces of advice: don’t gossip. Don’t bad mouth other people. It makes it look like you don’t get along with others, do not work well with others and want to shift the blame.

Nor should you compare yourself to other employees. If you do, your boss will not think that you are leaning in. He will think that you are a whiner.


Ares Olympus said...
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Ares Olympus said...

Freud (and Jung) didn't "conclude that spontaneous communication was the most authentic."

They said it gave us access to the unconscious.