Guess what? My most recent blog post received double-digit comments—a new record for me. Whether that occurred due to the subject matter or the fact that I shamelessly asked for comments (remember…I’m breezy!) is debatable, but a couple of the responses have led me to develop another first—a follow-up post.
Consider this comment from Lou, one of my Plante Moran colleagues:
Just chill out! I understand and appreciate the concern expressed about undermining authority. However, authority is earned and is the product of effort and contribution times experience. Using “gentler pressure” is actually a way to influence the longer term, not only the moment you respond. Once you’re viewed as harsh or overly direct, your audience shuts down. I use the adage that I attribute to Frank Moran (likely he noted from someone else): “gentle pressure, constantly applied yields results and avoids major interruptions.” Just my $0.02.
Of course he’s right. Authority is earned, and I understand that there’s a fine line between direct and abrupt. Moreover, I consider that Frank Moran quote a personal mantra (though for my purposes, it’s “gentle pressure, relentlessly applied”). I think about the people I respect most professionally—men and women—and all have made an art out of this. But there are “just” so many gray areas…
The same day my last blog came out, I was copied on an email from Lindsay, PM’s marketing tax consultant. It began like this: “Hi Mike — wanted to give you an update on the latest private equity tax article.” Immediately afterward, she forwarded that email to me with the following comment: “You’ll be happy to know I removed three instances of ‘just’ from this email.”
And I was happy! Because I could see the effect of removing those “justs” in action. Look at that first sentence; I’d be willing to bet my next paycheck that it initially said, “Hi Mike — just wanted to give you an update….” But instead she went with the more direct “…wanted to give you an update….” And there’s nothing harsh or off-putting about it.
What do you think? Should I just chill out? And are there any specific topics you’d like me to touch on? I’ll be back in about two weeks.