Steps to Management Success – Step 90: Get to the point

Written By Rick Frishman Published April 7th, 2010

STEP NINETY

Get to the Point

There is a well-known saying in the business world: “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, then baffle them with B.S.” Unfortunately, too many people treat this as a rule. Vague, waffling, and meandering communications in any form can only lead to confusion and misunderstanding . . . which can cause costly errors, poor decisions, and worse. Eschew obfuscation—say it simply!

WHAT IT MEANS: The time that you spend beating around the bush (or trying to decipher the message of someone who’s doing so) is time that could be more effectively devoted to something else. Don’t try to be a spin doctor—your attempt will usually be seen for what it all too often is: a semitransparent attempt to divert blame or otherwise mask a problem that needs to be objectively explored and resolved. As a Pepsi executive once famously exclaimed to derail a rambling and long-winded presentation, “I asked you what time it was, not how to build a watch.”

ACTION PLAN: Edit yourself beforehand by focusing in on the main points of your message and trimming away the flab. Here are some tips:

Don’t get bogged down in irrelevant details.

Don’t repeat comments unless the listener didn’t hear you or she indicates she didn’t understand. Say it once and carry on.

If the idea isn’t new to the discussion, don’t say it.

Eliminate extra words. When it comes to business communications, less is more—really!

EVEN BETTER: Encourage your reports to be as concise and relevant as possible in their communications with you. Avoid the temptation to paper over your mistakes or to baffle anyone with B.S. At the end of the day, it’s about getting things done, not belaboring why they weren’t. Exception: being cogent is no license to be insensitive to other people’s feelings. It may take a bit more time to express empathy or to say something kindly, but those are the times when a few extra words can actually help make you a better communicator.

(Excerpted from: 10 Clowns Don’t Make a Circus. . . and 249 Other Critical Management Success Strategies by Steven Schragis and Rick Frishman)

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