I have a very witty friend who is an excellent writer. Once when we were working together, he took a memo from the CEO and literally wrote between the lines. The result was hilarious and the real message the CEO was attempting to communicate. So often corporate communications can morph into a politically correct and not very informative effort. Organizations cannot be fooled; employees are not stupid.
From that moment on, I could not read any memo that started out by saying “it is with mixed emotions”, without getting a grin on my face. So to provide some additional joy during this festive time of the year, I am going to take my top ten favorite comments and provide you with what is between the lines.
1. New project: “But we have never done this before!”
• I am overwhelmed and can’t learn another new thing.
• We have too many changes to deal with right now. Can’t we keep this the same?”
• This is over my head; I am concerned.
2. Market Research Results: “I have a question about the methodology.”
• These are not good results so I will attack the methodology or the presenter.
• I have no idea why these results are bad. It can’t be us.
3. Anything new: “My colleague tried this at his practice and it won’t work.”
• I will bring in a third party to support my position.
• I don’t want to do this but I don’t want to look like I am not on the team.
4. Decision-making: “We need to check with all the stakeholders before we can approve moving forward.”
• Maybe I can slow this down by insisting on consensus.
• Maybe I can water this down so I am not impacted too much.
• By reaching consensus, we will get the least offensive and least effective change.
5. Communications Role: “I am managing this department, no one told me I had to communicate all this stuff to staff!”
• I was promoted because I was good at my job. No one trained me on how to be a communicator.
• Communication is hard because I know the staff are savvy.
• I am not comfortable in the communication role of management.
6. Website: “Why can’t our website be like Amazon’s?”
• If I can set unrealistic expectations, I may get what I want via compromise.
• I have never spent much time learning about websites, but I can navigate Amazon.
• I really don’t know what I am talking about I just want to sound like I do.
7. Patient Portals: “Patients can’t have access to their data before we have signed off on it. What if it is wrong?”
• If I have to do this, I will have to get to my patient records faster than I am now.
• Patients aren’t smart enough to have their own data.
• I want to be in control of the patient, not them.
8. Inability to Change: “But we have always done it this way?”
• This is the sister of “But we have never done this before?”
• This company keeps asking me to constantly change. I want to know why we need to this, now!
9. Pure Arrogance: “Here, I am a surgeon, let me tell you how to ________(fill in the blank).”
• I am the smartest person in the room so I should have a say about everything.
• There is no other meaning, just arrogance.
10. Cluelessness: “Patients don’t look at those rating systems.”
• I didn’t know about these rating systems.
• My patients would never rate me poorly. They love me.
• My ratings must be about my office staff, not me.
• Patients don’t believe those ratings.
“It is with mixed emotions…….There are no mixed emotions. The organization wants to appear considerate and respectful. What choices do leaders have? Perhaps:
• They wanted that person to leave,
• The person was unhappy and the organization could not meet their needs
• Given all the change in the organization, perhaps this is an opportunity for the organization to bring in new leadership.
Corporate communications are absolutely essential, particularly during times of change. If you are the point person for Corp Comm, remember to respect your audience and really understand their reaction to your communications.