Keep it Simple Silly!

Here is another blog from team IBS and one that is written by me after a long long time!!! 
So what is it that took me so long to break this jinx? Was it that I had something called a writer’s block as Mr. Stephen King calls it? No, I write my own personal blog at regular intervals. Was it that I did not find a suitable idea? No here too. There are a lot of ideas I get on and off which come as special brain waves and I have this “aha” moment where I want to wake up at 00:00 hrs and write about them (like I am right now) but when I start toying with that topic in my mind, I simply cannot find enough substance to add to it. I mean I don’t want to just go ahead and write a blog on 4Ps and 5Qs (;-p).
But here I am sitting in the middle of the night and furiously typing away (it is a pleasure to be typing away on a Mac anyways!) all thanks to Mr. Joel Spolsky (do not fret if you do not know him or have not heard of him as I did not know of this name till two days back!). This blog is prompted by a book he has written called “Smart and gets things done!“. No this blog is not about the book (I will write about this in my personal blog maladhalani.blogspot.com) but I would however recommend this book HEAVILY and it has to be one of the best books I have read.
This blog is about communication. I want to share here a few things, basics as I would refer to them, of communication which I think Mr. Spolsky has used so effectively in his book (it took me just three hours to finish the book and no it is not a suspense thriller, it is a book on how to hire people but I simply could not put it down!).
Calvin & Hobbes by Bill Watterson
Image Source & Courtesy: 
#1: Simplicity
There is simply no substitute for simple language! It may be that you have memorized the oxford dictionary cover to cover or you simply like to keep the thesaurus word map open when you are typing something, but using heavy vocabulary is just plain inefficient! Nothing like getting your point across to someone in a simple language all the time making sure that the person reading/listening to you is understanding what you are saying the way you want it to be understood. I must admit it is quite a difficult thing to do!
#2: Humour
I am going to try and jog you down your memory lane a little bit and ask you to compare an important and serious lecture to an important but humorous lecture. No doubt on which one you remember and which one brought a smile to your face even now. Research also shows that after having laughed human beings are at their maximum level of focus. (Nah! That’s a bull crap statistic!!). It’s just so much nicer to read something or listen to someone who has included humour in the context. I am not suggesting making something frivolous here for the sake of it, but you will agree that just making someone laugh certainly ensures you of his or her attention (and happily so!)
#3: Directness
Just get to the point and do not beat around the bush. There is no need to give 10 examples to explain something when one is sufficient. Chances are that if someone does not get what you are saying the first time they will never get it! So unless there is a very strong reason for you to repeat something or explain with more than one example, don’t do it!  You are certainly putting off all the smart people and the dumb ones are not going to get it anyways!
So this is my long due but heart felt blog on communication and a few things to make yours effective. There are books that have been written on communication and I am sure a lot of them serve great value but these are just some thoughts inspired from Joel’s book. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!
Please do share your thoughts.

- Mala Dhalani
About the Author:
Mala is Partner at Inception Business Services. A Management & Marketing professional, Mala believes in the power of higher thinking as well as the power of on-ground execution. A voracious reader (check out http://maladhalani.blogspot.in) and a talented dancer, Mala is happiest when she is out there meeting new people, exchanging ideas and helping to make the world a better place.

Author – Team Inception

Categories: reading, simple ideas, basics of effective communication, communication

Manners Matter

Calvin & Hobbes by Bill Watterson
Image Courtesy & Source: http://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes/2009/07/20/
Recently, I was putting together material for a leadership development initiative for our client. One chapter in a book I referenced talked about “Manners” and how sometimes the managers who are competent but fail in collaborative work are the ones who simply put, lack “manners”. [*]
Seems overly simple? People who fail working with other people well are those who ignore basic courtesies of human interaction and professional courtesy. The more I thought about this, the more I realized it IS true.
We may call it empathy or emotional quotient or use any other term, but in essence, it probably all does boil down to manners. Or should I say good manners. In every situation, handling a meeting, giving someone negative feedback, rejecting a candidate or a vendor: I have always noticed that the great ones do it politely, firmly and effectively.
Ever so often, we can use a gentle reminder about the basic things in life and the idea of penning this blog was to list out the manners in professional practice that help make a great manager, in my book.
  1. I'm running late: You may be late for a meeting, but it is bad manners to not inform those who are waiting for you. Traffic snarls, time spills, we are all victims to time thieves that highjack our schedule. If you’re late, let people know. After all, they DID make it on time against all odds J
  2.  He may be wrong, but you can’t yell at him in public: You have a team? Someone is bound to mess something up sometime. Don’t yell. Communicate. Personally, I feel worse when I drop the ball & the other person is calm and polite about my mistake and not yelling at me.
  3.  Rude is not the same as cool: You may be the wisecrack around but stop short of being rude, even when you have been provoked. 
  4.  It does not matter if you are the client or the employee or the vendor: No matter which side of the equation you’re on, it doesn’t give you the right to be obnoxious to someone – anyone. Remember, what goes around comes around.
  5. Telecallers are only doing their job: Yes, I am familiar with the most annoying among their breed but still, remember someone is only trying to do their job, perhaps trying to be too persistent at it. Don’t buy what they’re selling, but you don’t need to break their spirit.
  6.  Don’t cut into people’s meal times unless you’re taking care to feed them: One of our clients is so thoughtful that he ensures that we are always well-fed during our meetings. There is never an instance when we extend a discussion over a couple of hours or lunchtime without being offered food or refreshment.  It is a lesson I’ve taken to heart. It is a basic courtesy. If you’re the boss and need to give your team grief about their performance, they’ll hate it less if they’re not hungry.
  7. Say Thank you: Someone did her job well? Say thank you without trying to evaluate if she needs to be thanked for doing her job. Overthinking is a waste on this one.
  8. Get someone else to read your angry tirade mail before it goes out: Goof-ups happen. People deserve to be told they caused it. But if you’re angry when you typed that email – chances are the anger overrides the message. Get some one to read and if necessary tone it down. There are exceptions to this guideline and I am guessing most of us will have the sense to use the exception wisely.
  9.  Smile: - Really, I mean it. Even if you’re carrying the entire burden of the world on your shoulders. Smile. You’ll feel lighter too.
  10. Is this a good time? In some of my earlier teams, calling a reportee at 10 pm (no it was not a BPO or 24by7 operation!) for a chat was totally acceptable. And in the same organization, I met a senior manager who would hesitate to call after hours or if he HAD to, first check or apologize for the inconvenience. No prizes for guessing whom I respected more.
  11. A gesture means more, when it is not required: Sometimes a courtesy is appreciated simply because it is not required. Going the extra mile for a simple gesture is hardly ever going to cost you much or go wrong. A colleague returning after a sick day off will always appreciate someone who says welcome back and hope you’re okay this morning.  A thank you note for some one who did you a good deed may not be expected by the other person, but would be much appreciated for the very same reason.
  12. Give credit where due; if in doubt give it anyway: Acknowledging people’s contribution to a result or outcome is basic, simple and oh so often missed out once the job gets done.
  13. You’re not hired but good luck with your career: Yes, applicants you rejected for that job are people too. You don’t need them anymore (not today atleast) so it is easy to forget them. Dropping them a line that the position is closed and wishing them luck in their future won’t take time but it shows good form on your part.
Well, these are my top 13. I can go on but I guess you get the gist. Feel free to add your own and make this list more comprehensive. I’m sure we all have some people to whom the entire set would be a welcome gift J for self-improvement.
- Pavithra Charan
  Blog 2013#1
About the Author:  
Pavithra is Founder & Partner at Inception Business Services. A Marketing & Management professional with a keen interest in people and passion for ideas, Pavithra moved from being a Banker & Wealth Management professional to entrepreneur. Working with start ups, Brand management, Customer engagement, Content creation and Coaching/Training are areas of work that most excite her. Multi-tasking entrepreneur, mother of a 3 year old and wife of a businessman, Pavithra confesses that her 2013 resolutions include being regular with her blog writing and any encouragement in that direction is welcome. Mail her at pavithra at inception.net.in. 
 



[*]   The Effective Executive – by Peter   F. Drucker
Author – Team Inception

Categories: Empathy, extra mile, Learning

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