Esquire editor Ross McCammon has written a witty, funny, and helpful book on interviews, office work, and communication with colleagues and clients. We publish an excerpt from “It’s Their Way” about how to behave in meetings and what you definitely shouldn’t tell your colleagues.
How to shut up in time
Esquire hosts a weekly production meeting where editors and designers discuss the current status of major projects. The point is that before the eyes of every leading editorial staff, there should be an image of a certain “track station” at which he will have to be responsible for his current work. It is expected that the main answers from employees in meetings should be “Yes,” and “It’s okay.”
I didn’t get it in my first months at Esquire. I believed that I should answer questions honestly and in detail. Therefore, in response to the question addressed to me, “How are things with such and such an article?” I began to explain, apologize, and answer questions that I was not asked. I was bothering everyone in the conference room. I didn’t know that I needed to say “Everything is fine” and then just shut up.
Read also: Why Do We Lose Friends as We Grow Older?
This is how to speak in production meetings.
If you have already opened your mouth, then, by all means, you need to finish the sentence, then stop. Otherwise, you talk and talk, hoping to increase your worth in front of your colleagues but in vain. First, you prevent others from speaking out; second, the more you talk, the more likely you will go astray and make yourself look unfavorable. At meetings (we are talking primarily about managers’ weekly production meetings), you show your value by restraint in your statements, not by talkativeness. And you should only say what you are firmly sure of. Moreover, it is clear and convincing.
– How are things going with such and such a project?
– All perfectly.
That’s all. Everyone is happy. You can go further.
But remember, if you say “everything is fine” and it’s not, you may be asked later for misleading the manual. And this will become a problem for you. Therefore, only say “excellent” if everything is really great. Otherwise, use chameleon words like “good,” “going in the right direction,” etc. (This is a widespread practice in workshops.)
The main thing here is that you must be 100% sure that everything is fine. But what should never be done under any circumstances?
– How are things going with such and such a project?
– Well, you see …
Never start your phrases with “Well …” and “You see …”. Leave it to the commanders of civilian planes (“You see, gentlemen, we just contacted the tower, and our situation sucks”). After the words “Well …” and “You see …” nothing good can be expected.
- – I met with …
Nobody cares about who you had a meeting with.
- – With my team …
Oh, that’s how, “with the team.”
- – And we are full of determination …
Good God, no one is interested in this!
I yawn, even typing this.
What you should never say in a circle of colleagues
Sometimes I am told (mostly by magazine designers who are waiting for a decision from me) that I “bother” too much. “I think you’re just taking too long to think things over,” many of them say. This may be true, but I believe that the phrase “you take too long to think about the solution” should not be used in normal work. It seems to punish people because they approach their business or problem with increased attention, trying to achieve maximum results.
I think those who accuse others of thinking too long are themselves not very inclined to think seriously. This means that they have no serious thoughts.
Here are some examples of what you shouldn’t say in a circle of colleagues.
1. “I beg your pardon”
You might say, “I understand I was wrong. This will not happen again. ” And explain what you mean. But leave asking for forgiveness for your personal life. They usually have a purely emotional background. Acknowledging that the problem exists and demonstrating how you intend to correct it is much more valuable from a professional point of view.
2. “Do you understand what I said?”
People love to ask this question after their comments. If you have to do this, it means that you are either not sure of what you said, or you yourself do not understand what you said. And now you’re asking the other person to confirm the nonsense you just said.
3. “Let everything go as it goes”
Yeah, but how? If you think of this phrase as a reflection of the laws of existence, then you end up lighting a cigarette while jumping off a cliff. We all need to abandon this stereotype once and for all. It doesn’t mean anything. This is a mantra for idiots.
4. “Everything has its own reason.”
See “Let Things Go As They Go.”
5. “May I be distracted by coffee?”
Can I distract you with coffee? Can I distract you for lunch? Can I distract you for five minutes? Can you distract me for five minutes? It all depends on what it is for.
And will you really distract me for five minutes, or will this be just the beginning? Can I distract you too? “Distraction” is an act of aggression toward others. And it implies that the person who requires you to “get distracted” either does not believe in a serious conversation with you or is not ready for it himself. We should be doing something together, not getting distracted. Have lunch together. Meet for a conversation. To drink coffee.
6. “I had a dream yesterday”
So, let me remember … It seems that we were in the office; there was also this little man … No, not a dwarf, just a little … And he had a cake in his hands, on which it was written … I forgot what … But there was also some pop star.
7. “I feel so bad after yesterday …”
Nobody wants to hear complaints about your hangover—even you yourself.
8. “I feel like …”
At work, you can think. But you shouldn’t feel.
9. “Stop telling me that I’ve been thinking too long about the question”
Chances are you actually do this.
Adapted and translated by Wiki Avenue Staff
Sources: Life hacker