There’s something alluring about being a little mysterious. Except in business.
One issue that comes up time and time again with our clients is language: How to craft the right email, leave the right voicemail, or what to say about yourself at a networking event. Everyone, it seems, is concerned with saying just the right thing at just the right time. We all want to make a good impression and it’s true that words do matter. We encourage and help our clients to get the language about themselves and their business down pat, so there’s never any need to improvise or search for words when they are describing what they do.
Beyond that, what we advise is to speak plainly and simply say what you mean.
What we advise is to speak plainly and simply say what you mean.
You don’t need to apologize for it, qualify it, or in any other way make a case for yourself. If you want to connect with someone you haven’t met, tell them that you admire them and would like to meet them. We bet they’d be flattered and happy to connect. If they’re not, then you probably don’t want to know them anyway. If you want to check on the status of a project or negotiation, just reach out and say that you are checking on the status. If something has come up and you need to make a change to an appointment or deadline, just be clear about what you need and when. In our experience, business people are pretty uncomfortable with ambiguity and generally appreciate clarity. Plain speaking also saves time for both parties.
A few caveats: First, plain speaking does not necessarily mean blunt speaking. Nothing good will come from being overly frank or careless in tone. In business dealings you always want to err on the side of politeness. Second, avoid over sharing. If your kid is sick or your marriage is on the rocks, a simple “family emergency” will probably be better than the specifics. If you need a piece of information from a colleague, it probably won’t add much if you share the 30 reasons why you need it.
Next time you’re hemming and hawing over what to say, just try saying what you mean, simply and clearly, and move on to the matter of running your business.