Dilbert approaches his boss (you know, the one with the tufts of hair that look like devil’s horns) and says, “The security audit accidentally locked all developers out of the system.” The boss says, “Well, it is what it is.”
Dilbert says, “How does that help?” The boss replies, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” Dilbert, obviously frustrated, says, "Congratulations you’re the first human to fail the Turing test.” The boss says, “What does that mean?” Dilbert replies, “It is what it is;” to which the boss says, “Why didn’t you say so in the first place?”
There really is such a thing as a Turing test. Dictionary.com defines it as follows: “A test proposed by British mathematician Alan Turing, and is often taken as a test of whether a computer has humanlike intelligence. If a panel of human beings conversing with an unknown entity (via keyboard, for example) believes that that entity is human, and if the entity is actually a computer, then the computer is said to have passed the Turing test.”
This is pretty funny. It is also kind of sad as it is indicative of the lack of communication in today’s business world. Scott Adams, Dilbert’s creator, really gets it when it comes to workplace dysfunctionality.
There is a book called, Beyond Bullsh*t, by UCLA Anderson School of Management Professor, Samuel Culbert. Professor Culbert defines bullsh*t in the following way:
“It is telling people what you think they need to hear. It may involve finessing the truth or outright lying, but the purpose is always self serving. And while I appreciate the role of some bullsh*t in keeping the corporate peace, it makes people feel beaten up, deceived – even dirty. When people talk straight at work, companies make out better because the best idea usually wins. In contrast, when people are bullsh*tting, they hide their mistakes and the company suffers. Straight talk is the product or relationships built on trust.”
Phrases like “it is what it is” are not straight talk. They are part of the inexplicable jargon that has overtaken us. Dynamic communicators say what they mean, in an easily understood manner.
Remember Elliot Spitzer? I read an article about him in Time Magazine that began this way: “His visage described discountenance.” Eliot Spitzer wrote those words about a character in a short story for his high school literary magazine. People would have more easily understood him if he had described the character by saying “he was unhappy’.”
I’m not holding Elliot Spitzer up to ridicule for something he wrote when he was in high school. However, there is a point about dynamic communication to be made here. Dynamic communicators don’t show off their large vocabularies. Instead, they choose words that are the most easily understood.
The common sense point here is clear. Successful people are competent. Dynamic communication is an important career and life success competency. Dynamics communicators eschew, I mean don’t use, jargon. They avoid meaningless phrases like “it is what it is” to explain something. They use the simplest words possible to get across their ideas. And they don’t bulls*it. They say what they mean. Follow these four rules in conversation, writing and presenting and you’ll become known as a dynamic communicator.
That’s my take on simple language and communication effectiveness. What’s yours? Please leave a comment sharing your thoughts with us. If you have a favorite Dilbert cartoon about communication skills, please share that with us too. As always, thanks for reading.
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It’s not difficult to create positive personal impact, but you do have to work at it. I have a model of customer service that I use with my consulting clients. It begins from the premise that after any interaction your customers “rate” you. The people in your life R.A.T.E. you too. You can use your R.A.T.E.ing to build positive personal impact. It works like this…
• R stands for Responsiveness;
• A stands for Assurance;
• T stands for Tangibles; and
• E stands for Empathy.
If you notice, only one of the four points in the model – tangibles – is what you actually do for or deliver to the people in your life. The other three are the emotional measures by which people judge you. These emotional measures are at least as important as the tangibles you deliver, especially when it comes to creating positive personal impact.
You have to deliver the tangibles. You must produce results. That’s the cost of a ticket to the personal and professional success sweepstakes.
However, you have to pay attention to the other three factors – responsiveness, assurance, and empathy – if you’re going to make a positive personal impact while you’re performing. Let’s look at each of these three in detail.
Responsiveness. You have to ensure that the people in your life see you as someone who is willing to help; someone who understands what needs to be done and is willing to do it. Other people need to think that you will give them what they want, when they want it, and in a manner that they can use it.
Assurance. You have to be able to convey trust and confidence. People need to feel that you are going to deliver. To do this, you must be very knowledgeable about the people in your life and their needs and wants. You need to be clear on what you can offer them to help them meet their goals. You need to ensure that they are confident that you will do what you say you will do.
Empathy. The people in your life must perceive you as an individual who understands, cares about, and pays attention to their needs. To do this, you need to be willing to walk a mile in your customers’ shoes. You have to demonstrate to them that you are aware of and sensitive to their unique and individual needs.
The common sense point here is simple. Successful people create positive personal impact. If you want to create positive personal impact, you must do more than deliver results, look good, and act graciously. You need to get high R.A.T.E.ings from the people in your life. You have to be seen by others as a person who is responsive to their requests. You have to build trust with these individuals, and you need to demonstrate that you understand their needs and issues. Focus on finding ways to be responsive, assuring and empathic and you’ll create positive personal impact.
That’s my take on creating positive personal impact by improving your R.A.T.E.ings with other people to create positive personal impact and build your success. What’s yours? Please leave a comment sharing your thoughts with us. As always, thanks for reading.
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