The executive stands in front of everyone in the Conference Room. The entire company is there and he just blathers on and on. Cliché after cliché spews forth from his mouth. “Let’s pick the low hanging fruit by thinking outside the box to make sure this is a win-win situation and eat the elephant one bite at a time.”
Toa make matters worse, his sweeping hand motions make a bigger impact of nothingness and leave even a larger question mark in your mind. He has been talking for 20 minutes and said absolutely nothing!
Can you be guilty of this type of pontification as a Project Manager? Yes you can. Unfortunately, it’s easy to happen for a couple of reasons.
Reason One: You Have Been Burned Before
Clients and stakeholders have a way of extracting information from you. They may ask the same question a dozen different ways to get the answer they are looking for. Let’s face it, you probably do the same thing. We all do.
But, once a statement, commitment, or date is uttered from our mouth, it may have the tendency of being treated as Gospel. This can unfortunately come back and bite you for a number of reasons. Perhaps you didn’t have all of your facts straight, or the resources that were working on your project ended up having problems, or a host of other situations arose. Because of this you’ve learned to be very careful about committing to anything at all! So you use words like “it should”, “it may”, or “it might” in order to get around hard commitments.
You ultimately can end up speaking a whole lot while saying very little.
Reason Two: You Spend Too Much Time Around People Who Talk That Way
It’s no surprise we pick up expressions and mannerisms from those that are around us, including different phrases, sayings and expressions. If you think about the group of people you work with, you will see that you all have a similar jargon. Unwittingly, you may have spent so much time with this group of people that you have picked up their clichés and “safe” words which ultimately end up meaning nothing as well.
If you’ve found yourself in either situation above, here’s some advice:
- Stop talking like that! Stop talking in clichés. Say less. There is no reason to go on and on, you can certainly state your opinion with less words and that will keep you out of trouble.
- It’s OK to say what you mean. Just shoot straight. Try it. You might step on peoples toes, or disappoint some but that’s OK. At least people know the facts now.
- Mean what you say. If you have committed to something and you realize that you need to deliver, make sure that it does happen.
By doing so you can become a more effective Project Manager and communicate like the best of them.