Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Say What You Mean

A little more thoughtfulness in our daily communications could go a long way to preventing cliché traps, irritating patterns and shortcuts that creep into our businesses. Okay, at the risk offending some people, here are some examples of what I mean.

“Let’s continue the conversation off line.”- This one comes up during a conference call or webinar. It kind of dehumanizes things. I get it. Sometimes the leader needs to suggest follow up on side issues not germain to the larger group.

“Think outside the box.”- This phrase is used by non-creative people in an attempt to classify their efforts as creative, but what does it really mean anyway? Only the most inarticulate among us needs a crutch phrase like this.

“My plate is full.” - Unless your business involves eating contests, find a better way to say you are busy. You just want to finish up projects on which you are currently working before accepting additional tasks. Fine. And eat your vegetables, they are good for you.

“At the end of the day…” - The day doesn’t end in a world connected by global commerce and 24-hour web presence.

“Thanks for reaching out.”- This sounded kind of sweet the first time I heard it, but as I started to see more and more people affected by economic setbacks, it seemed to take on a tone of pity.

“Getting the right people on the bus…”- Good to Great is a well researched business book by Tom Collins. It offers a lot of valuable insight. Sadly, some of the rhetoric it generated leads to some unfortunate, maybe even downright wrong conclusions for everyday business people. Getting people in the right seats? Be careful. You are talking about real people and their livelihoods. It’s not a game, a parable or a formula. If it were, wouldn’t every company be GREAT?
“We are a Solution Provider.“ - This is one of my favorites. Sales guys sometimes think in a vacuum, so they love this one. The next time you go to a big trade show, be on the lookout and listen for it. “We like to think we are a solution provider.” I heard a printer say it recently. Printing is tough to sell these days. Printing firms are branching out into other areas not so much about paper and ink. A good salesperson will benefit from corporate strategy and find more exact language.

“It’s right in our space.” - What are you trying to say? You don’t own space. It isn’t a parking lot. Space is used instead of business, expertise, process or industry. I hope you find a space where you can be comfortable.
“Let’s go Viral.” - Malcolm Gladwell and his books, including The Tipping Point, and the emergence of Social Media made this a common phrase to describe internet strategy. It’s overused and with all of the tactical based options available, it’s not very precise terminology.

“Core Competencies” - Come on, why can’t you just say it straight up? We are good at certain things, and not so great at others.

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