Appropriately expressing one’s thoughts and ideas can be challenging in the business world. In light of certain communications I’ve recently been subjected to, I feel compelled to share with you some DOs and DON’Ts which will hopefully help you climb the corporate ladder more quickly and do so without getting on your colleagues’ nerves any more than necessary:
1. DON’T sign your e-mails with your initials unless you are high up on the corporate food chain. These are the only people who have earned the right to save precious time by signing with two letters.
If there is any question as to whether you are high enough up on said food chain, check your title to see if it can be reduced to a 3-letter acronym starting with the letter “C” (e.g. CFO, COO, CIO, CTO, etc).
- If the answer is “yes”, you may begin signing with your initials.
- If the answer is “no”, as disheartening as it may be, you must go back to signing with your full first name. Don’t be sad; at least you will no longer come across as a self-important douchebag to your co-workers.
- If you are uncertain if your title can be made into an acronym, ask Human Resources.
- If Human Resources informs you that you are the CEO, you may sign with just your first initial.
2. When responding to someone in writing, DO find a way to sound professional without using big words which do not belong together. For example,
- DO say: I have spoken with John to ensure this doesn’t happen again.
- DON’T say: I have spoken with John to circumvent recurrence.
If you are circumventing recurrence, you might want to look for another job that doesn’t require you to write anything.
3. DON’T try to get cozy with executive management over the lasagna at the holiday party. This will be seen as a last minute attempt to increase your bonus when you should have been working longer hours all year long. If you aren’t sure who at the party is an executive manager, check everyone’s title for one of the previously mentioned acronyms.
4. If you work in IT and manage to single-handedly, irreparably crash an application people need to finish their time-sensitive projects, DON’T pretend the application works fine on your end. Instead, beg their forgiveness and find someone to do your job who actually knows what they are doing.
5. When you are responsible for leading a meeting, DO make a reasonable effort to prepare first. While you are undoubtedly extremely busy, it will be a colossal waste of time to those who are forced to watch you think out loud as you try to figure out why you called the meeting it the first place.
If, despite the above, you still insist on not preparing for your own meeting, you must take the following steps to ensure your face doesn’t end up on a dartboard in someone’s cubicle.
- apologize profusely
- bring snacks or otherwise bribe your colleagues to not stand up and leave
- promise to circumvent recurrence
Note: For an explanation of common terms used in business discussions, please refer to my previous posts on this topic: Corporate Lingo – the Key to Success in the Corporate Jungle and Heteroskedasticity.