Seated at the table next to me at a fast food restaurant, I couldn’t help hearing the lack of conversation between a young woman and a younger uniformed man, clearly employees of the establishment. “You need to take pride in your work,” she told him. There was no response.
“I told you last week, to start taking more pride in your work, but I don’t see any improvement,” she stated. This one way conversation went down hill from there. He kept glancing at her with a confused look as she repeated her unvaried message. Finally, the high school employee muttered something under his breath about “trying harder” and the conversation ended.
I understand his confusion. What does it mean to “take pride in your work?” What does “pride” behavior look like? How will he know if he’s taken enough pride to satisfy his shift leader? Since pride is not an action, the input she gave wasn’t something he could apply to improve his performance.
I expect their conversations won’t get any better as respective frustrations grow. Yet, conversations like these are typical in many workplace relationships. A team leader or supervisor tries to provide feedback or coach a staff member toward better performance. She thinks she’s providing direction, when in fact, she’s offering what a former boss of mine used to call “round” words. They’re pumped up and nice sounding, but they don’t communicate much.
Let’s say you inform your child that he needs to “study more” after a disappointing report card. You’re thinking “more” means an hour a day and he’s thinking another ten minutes. Even if you settle on the time allotment, “more” is one of those round words. It doesn’t (continue reading →)