When this issue is published, we will be closing the books on 2016, and heading into a brand new year. As a personal rule, I have never been one to participate in New Year resolutions. 99% (and perhaps more) of the resolutions that people set, are doomed to fail. Most of us will cede to the temptation we were avoiding well before the frozen days of January are behind us. I think that the reason we fail so often in this regard, is that we are not properly prepared for the commitment that is needed to truly conquer the challenge. There is no special magic that happens on January 1st that automatically imbues us with the self-discipline to make sweeping changes to our behavior.
That doesn’t mean however that it’s not a good idea to use the change in the calendar to reflect on the state of the business at hand. The world is changing. 2017 is going to require embracing new initiatives in order to keep improving. Next year, in order to keep up with the demands on our resources we need to do things faster, better and more efficiently. In our efforts to use the tools at our disposal, and add the newest technology to our processes, I’ve been also thinking about how to improve our communication skills in the workplace. If efficiency is the currency of success, we have to always find ways to express ourselves that are concise, specific, honest and responsible. Above all, communication needs to be CLEAR. It’s many a manager that repeats the worn out mantra “we need MORE communication.”
I disagree. It’s my belief that we have no trouble at all with communication. We have “communication” coming out of our ears. Just look at how many devices we have. With all of this technology at our fingertips, we still miss the mark because what we really lack is UNDERSTANDING. The amount of communication is not nearly as important as the specificity of it. Hearing it is not necessarily understanding it.
That said, I think there are words and phrases used every day in our business that I would love to see eliminated in the New Year. All of these drive me crazy in varying degrees. Trite phrases actually IMPEDE good communication. These phrases are overused, nonspecific, banal and just plain worn out. I think they can all be improved and in my opinion should be avoided, especially in the workplace. So, (with my tongue somewhat in my cheek), these are the top 10 phrases and activities to avoid in 2017.
1. At the end of the day
Can we please quit with the end of the day? I would much rather talk about our ultimate goals. The “end of the day” should be a time of peace, not a moment to rehash where we stand. At the end of the day I’m tired, hungry and want a meal and a glass of wine. Let’s not complicate that.
2. Take it to the next level
Can’t you just set a goal? Nobody really knows what the next level is anyway. You don’t even know what it is. It is the catchall we use for better, faster and more efficient. The problem is that if we are too lazy to define those things, we just verbally sweep it all into a pile and call it the next level. Be specific. We can’t hit a target we don’t set.
3. As we speak
How on earth can you ensure that anything is being done “as we speak?” You cannot be in two places at one time. Using “as we speak” suggests that the other party is being given top priority. Usually, the reason we have to promise that things are being done “as we speak,” is due to the fact that things did NOT get done right the first time. In these situations, it’s better not to manufacturing artificial sunshine by explaining what is being done “as we speak.” Most people see right through it. Even if the equipment is down, and the customer is frustrated, just simply state your plan going forward, its expected timeline, and your commitment to manage its progress.
4. Reaching out (contacting someone)
If you need to call someone, just call them. I know it sounds softer and warmer to say “reaching out.” “Reaching out” however is a term I see used when the subject matter may be confrontational, embarrassing or awkward. Call it what it is. I would rather hear someone say “I need to confront this,” or “We need to square this up.” I like to reserve “reaching out” for when I really need some genuine help, or when I am engaging the elderly, the sick, the poor and others in need of help. If I need to contact you however, I’ll just call you.
5. My bad
It’s not only bad grammar, it makes you sound like a 7th grader. Be a professional. Be an adult. Say “It’s my fault,” “I’m sorry” or “I take responsibility for that.”
6. Giving back
This one drives me nuts. This is a phrase designed to explain generous and selfless giving by individuals or corporations, when in fact it connotes exactly the opposite message. If we are “giving back” when we donate to charity, it suggests that what we have somehow was obtained unfairly. The phrase suggests that we TOOK something that did not BELONG to us, so we had to “give it back.” If we rightfully earned our money, it belongs to US. We didn’t steal it. We earned it. To suggest that we need to “give it back” is insulting. Make no mistake, we don’t mind investing in our community, or providing for the needs of others, but we do so with the resources that we rightfully earned. We do it of our own volition, out of love and gratitude to God, not out of guilt or fear which is what the former implies.
And now for the social media jungle:
If you have to constantly take photos of yourself and post them to social media in order to validate yourself, you have fundamental self-esteem issues. Get over yourself. Let other people take the pictures. While you’re at it….quite sending me photos of your lunch. I really don’t care what you are eating, unless of course…you’re sharing it with me.
The fact that you place an asterisk or a dollar sign in the middle of a curse word does not showcase your brilliance. It’s not clever. It’s not new. Everyone knows what you mean. Even if you are angry, or feeling frustrated, do your best to reign in the profane name calling, and replace it with a cogent argument that demonstrates your intelligence and your communication skills. Remember that your professional colleagues, customers and possible future employers will stalk your social online profile to see what kind of person they are partnering with.
Yes, those ubiquitous invitations to play Farmville, Candy Crush, Bubble Witch, Pet Rescue, et al. You apparently have nothing to do, and (by the way) none of this belongs in the workplace. News Flash….the road to success doesn’t include any of this nonsense. Now, it’s easy to tell by now that I’m not a gamer, and it’s not that I don’t believe in having a little fun, but how brain dead have we gotten? Hey, if you want to be brain dead, go ahead….just please don’t invite me to join you.
I don’t tweet. But I know those that do. The way I understand it, the hashtag was designed as a mechanism for sorting and cataloging like kind postings. The hashtag however has taken on a life of its own, and has pushed its cross hatched tentacles into every available form of communication. It’s really run its course. If you have something to say…just say it. #irritating
So there you have it. The bottom line here is to use communication for its intended purpose: to be understood and to keep everyone on the same page. Don’t get lazy with it. Poor communication actually moves you away from your goals. All you need to do is look at your gratis work for the year to see that well-articulated communication could have saved a lot of money in 2016.
On to 2017. Happy New Year!
Dave Baiocchi is the president of Resonant Dealer Services LLC. He has spent 33 years in the equipment business as a sales manager, aftermarket director and dealer principal. Dave now consults with dealerships nationwide to establish and enhance best practices, especially in the area of aftermarket development and performance. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to contact Dave.
Dave Baiocchi will be a featured speaker at the upcoming MHhuddle one-day material handling conference. Learn more…