Sometimes it does help to ask

Shel Holtz recently described his dislike of corporate-speak and illustrated the correct way to communicate – by being direct and uncomplicated – through the example of JetBlue planes, a US-based carrier which effectively held passengers captive when they were stranded on tarmac due to bad weather in New York.

Today I had to deal with a slightly odd situation that, it turned out, required a similar approach. I’d been asked to join a conference call tomorrow with a director of a top network provider to ‘discuss’ some of my work. This is highly unusual. Account directors are the principal point of contact with client directors, not lowly copywriters like me. So, I chatted offline with my account director who suggested that, when I called the client back to arrange the call, I should just ask if there was a problem.

So I did. And at the other end of the phone I swear I could hear the relief in the other person’s voice. No, there wasn’t a problem. Yes, it really was just to discuss the work. And thank you for asking.

There were many ways I could have gone about this but the direct approach worked. As a result, I’m not dreading the call tomorrow, and the client now knows that I won’t skirt around difficult issues. So through adversity, by being direct, we’re all now happier.

I just hope I’m right. Yikes.

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