Frequently in life the things that are not said carry meaning that goes well beyond words. But when action is expected from words, clear honesty is the best practice. I had a chance to spend some time with a world-reknown speaker over the weekend, and he said that one of the problems with our society is a lack of blunt honesty. People refuse to address the issues they face, and expect things to work out. It’s true in the family; it’s true in the corporation; it’s true in society.A friend is trying to hire for an open position. An up-the-chain superior came by and dropped a resume “of a friend who might be qualified” on his desk. What should the hiring manager do? Is the resume just a formality to an expected hire? Or is it just an opportunity for some extra attention and the hiring manager still has sway over the course of events? It’s a HUGE difference, and with only the direction of “I’d like you to look at a friend’s resume“, there isn’t a clear course of action. Everyone could save a ton of time (and not just a small amount of anxiety) with some blunt honesty here.Before I read Dilbert to find out what the business world was really like, I obtained my first job on the merits of my resume, or so I thought. A contact through the organization that held my partial scholarship introduced me to an alumnus of the fine school I was attending, and he requested my resume and offered to take it by HR for me. Two days later, I got a job offer. I really did think (as a naive 19-year-old) that my reputation had preceded me. It wasn’t until I reported for work and my manager started barking orders to what he thought was a senior in electrical engineering only to discover I was a sophomore in aerospace that we discovered there may have been a disconnect between job posting and job hiring. A little research uncovered that my “contact” was the VP and second in line to the throne. I was rehired in years two and three without this contact (he had moved on) on what I trust was the merit of my accomplishments that first summer, but I have no doubt a dropped resume with a “why don’t you see if we have anything that fits this” got me my first opportunity in the business world.Just tonite when I arrived home, The Cook announced we were sans cheese with tacos on the menu, which is a crisis eclipsed only when the ice cream runs out. The situation was phrased as a question: “Do you think we (you) should make a run to the store or do without?” I’d much prefer a direct, “Would you (please) run out and get some cheese?” since everyone in the room knew that was the best course of action. The stakes are lower in the kitchen (or maybe not!) but the principle is the same. What was desired was not asked for.Everyone knows that relationships and favors drive a lot of the world’s workings, and most of us have no problems with that (unless we’re left on the outside when a favor is cashed in to someone else). And many times we ask favors of others. Most sales are just a response to a query. But we seem to have lost the fine art of asking.
If you want direct and specific action, ask for it.