In-house Interpersonal: Just a Spoonful of Sugar

I was meeting with a particularly talented and motivated member of the in-house team I manage the other day when he related something that really surprised me. As we were discussing some bad news the group had received about our business, he mentioned that his manager, one of my directs, had informed him of the impending challenge in a way he didn’t particularly appreciate. When I asked what it was he didn’t like about the manager’s communication style, he responded that the manager had been candid and forthright when imparting the news – which is exactly how I would have done it.

The designer explained that he wanted something in communication to feel good about even if it was some good old corporate spin. As we talked more, it struck me that he needed to be inspired and to a lesser degree feel he was being taken care of and led by a leader who exhibited optimism and good humor even in the face of difficult circumstances.

Having always been a proponent of straight talk, I now realize that there are nuances and degrees of style even when engaging in a candid and forthright communication practice. I was also reminded that there is no one size fits all way of interacting with staff or peers and clients too, for that matter. While I certainly won’t be misrepresenting or soft peddling bad news going forward, I will certainly be adding a bit of sugar coating to my communications even if it’s just a dusting.

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