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What's your point?

Posted by Paul Hellman  February 8, 2013 11:00 AM

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"Describe yourself," one CEO asks job applicants, "in 3 words or less."

What would you say? Probably not, "I'm wordy and verbose. Also repetitive."

On the other hand, the U.S. President just hired a new Secretary of State whom he regards, at times, as "long-winded" (NY Times, 12/16/12).

But I don't think that's what clinched the job for the new Secretary, unless, one day, after listening to him ramble on and on, the President got desperate.

"This fellow talks too much," the President may have concluded. "Obviously, the only thing to do is hire him, and then, immediately send him to 112 different countries."

How focused are you?

"You seem to have 29 ideas at once," an exec. told one of his managers. "And I feel like I'm hearing them all, right this minute."

Ever gotten feedback like that?

Sometimes, we get mired in details. "You wouldn't believe what happened to me last Thursday," we say—"no wait, it was Wednesday. Actually, now that I think about it—this thing I'm about to tell you—it didn't really happen at all. I dreamt it. Last Monday."

I work with several companies where executives, after taking a communication assessment, will gladly tell you their preferred style. Each style has its own color.

Let's say you walk into an office and see the color red. That means, in essence, "Get to the point. Then get out."

But most execs aren't that direct.

Your boss probably hasn't asked you to say it in 3 words or less, or given you feedback about your 29 ideas, or flashed the color red in your face.

Maybe she hasn't said a thing about valuing conciseness.

Tip: Assume it.

© Copyright 2013 Paul Hellman. All rights reserved.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.

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Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.

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