Building Community Through Better Relationships

At the End of the Day, Is Night

A mentor earlier in my career was very fond of making fun of business sayings by slightly changing them to make them more absurd. Because she was bright, successful and funny, I started doing it too. One of her favorites was “At the end of the day… is night”. Some clichés are used by people who like to hear themselves talk. For professionals who focus on productivity, they do not have time to waste on someone like that. Don’t misinterpret her witticism for silliness. Her revised saying was a clear indicator that we were not going to waste time repeating obvious conclusions. Consequently, she emphasized “Add value now, or be the butt of the next joke!” Effective business communication was where adding value started.

• Don’t Hide Behind Clichés
Too often, professionals hide behind clichés because they are incapable of original thought. By definition, effective leaders refuse to live in a world of clichés because clear communication is a characteristic of an effective leader. A popular cliché’, “It is what it is”, is simply a declaration of futility. For a business team, this phrase translates to “I’m too lazy to do any better”. An equally ridiculous, yet popular cliché is “Let’s not reinvent the wheel”. The sheer lunacy screams risk aversion and ineptitude. Taken literally it says, “we should all travel rolling on sawed logs.” The simple response is “No, let’s innovate!”

• Beware of the Deep
At another point in my career, I worked in an organization with a manager who was in awe of his own alleged brilliance. Additionally, the mental midgets that he hired as supervisors were carefully selected to pose no threat to his reign of ignorance. As a lowly associate, I deliberately let my silence be misunderstood for reverence. On one particular rant, he was inspiring us to overtake our completion by exhorting “There is only one number one!” After silently feeling relieved to learn he could actually count, I watched his direct reports begin their chorus of worship at his superior intellect. Clearly this dysfunctional organization’s failure started with leadership. The leader’s influence was based entirely on his position indicating that the organization was broken. When a leader needs subordinates to be dumb, in order to appear smart, beware. Furthermore when the leader starts piling it deep, the smart contributor starts heading for higher ground.

• You Know What I’m Saying?
No, I don’t. Either say it clearly or don’t say it at all! If a leader is genuinely checking for understanding, then by all means respond respectfully. If a colleague, manager, or ineffective executive is seeking confirmation for their ineptness, or worse yet, trying to sound much younger than they really are, then tactfully have them re-explain their meaning. But who among us have heard this phrase to honestly check for understanding from the listener? Typically, the speaker is not deep, nor are they cool. Too often, they lack an adequate vocabulary. Sincerely challenge them to be clearer, so that everyone will know what was said.

Metaphors are a great way to communicate ideas with vivid and recognizable images. Mindless clichés should be left out of intelligent conversation. Speakers who use wasted words or clever sayings for their own benefit and not for the listener abuse whatever authority they have. To be effective, wisely use words and time with predetermined purpose. At the end of the day, it is in fact, night. So communicate better and get to work, or prepare to wander in the dark!

By Glenn W Hunter
Principal of Hunter and Beyond



September 10, 2014 - Posted by | Better Business, Better Communication | , , , , , ,

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