Man, you blow!
Check out some nicer ways to tell someone they’re not making the grade.
DO you ever sit through a 360 performance evaluation, or a committee meeting, or a pitch by a potential supplier, and wish you could be totally honest and say, “This is a load of rubbish!”
While such statements may relieve your feelings, good business is all about getting along with people. Thankfully, there are many ways to moderate unpalatable opinions.
When Izham Omar, CEO of TV8, hears a rotten pitch for a TV programme, he says, “In my head I’m thinking, “Oh ... my ... god ... WHAT half-baked idea is this?! I’m SOOOO glad I’m not related to you! Now go, before I slap you with my left slipper.”
“But my usual reply is, ‘I just think that’s not going to work, in my humble opinion. If you’ve got a better idea/story/show/concept I’ll be more than willing to listen.’”
Sweetening rejection with the promise of an open door in the future is a useful strategy. Another is to pick your words carefully.
The Ancient Greeks who excelled in rhetoric, the art of persuasive language and communication, went to great lengths to develop euphemisms, meaning language that sounds good.
Some euphemisms have a bad name because they are designed to hide an ugly truth: for example, using downsizing and rightsizing instead of mass redundancies. However, there’s plenty of scope for proper use.
An easy first step is use a thesaurus. For example, you can substitute under-productive and inefficient for lazy, redundant or expendable for deadwood, and lacklustre for boring.
Turning a compliment around also works wonders. Instead of saying Sally is excellent at time management or Lim seeks challenges eagerly, say Sally must work on his/her time management and Lim should seek challenges more eagerly.
Another neat trick is to relate criticism to performance areas: accuracy, competency, communication, dependability, knowledge, and so on.
Thus a colleague you would describe to friends as someone who brings a lot of joy whenever he leaves the room could be advised to work on developing personal qualities.
Someone who you think of as a gross ignoramus – 144 times worse than an ordinary ignoramus – would become uninformed on business, political and social issues.
Straight shooters may scoff, however, as Quentin Crisp author of Manners From Heaven pointed out, “Manners are for getting what we want without making beasts of ourselves.”
Or at least, not complete beasts!