Man, you blow!

Check out some nicer ways to tell some­one they’re not mak­ing the grade.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIFESTYLE - By ELLEN WHYTE

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!

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