“I feel there is a trust issue”, I said.
“Some people are not sure about your honesty“, I added.
In a casual conversation, I was sharing feedback to Sachin who is extremely dedicated, energetic and a go-getter. I could have waited for the formal one on one meeting to share this information but as part of another discussion, I shared the information in a friendly manner to make him aware. I was not watchful about the words being used and just let the thought flow.
There was a feedback where an individual questioned Sachin’s authenticity in a very milder and casual context. It was not a complaint but a finer area of improvement. Sachin is highly regarded for his passion and energy but due to his go-getter and can-do attitude, people in the remote locations are unsure whether he is able to complete these massive tasks by following appropriate process, keeping other individuals opinion in mind or not. His strong personality at times overawed others and makes them feel he might be bulldozing others ideas and just going with his own. It was a mild doubt not a fully formed thought.
But as I was passing the information casually I used certain words like ‘trust’ and ‘honesty’ inappropriately.
Sachin being sensitive, principled and coming from a highly respected family was aghast by these words. He poured his frustrations out and remained in this state for many weeks since then. No explanation could help him make peace with himself. He started questioning his efforts beyond what is asked and he lost trust in the company and its people most importantly on me, his manager. After a couple of months, he resigned citing a personal reason.
There is no doubt that I made a stupid mistake of not being sensitive about the fact and casually using the words which were not the appropriate reflection of my thought. I should have thought through the feedback and articulated in an appropriate manner by using appropriate words so that it would have been understood as it meant to be.
Mistake as a manager is always multiplied by the number of people reporting to the manager. Hence it made me understand it can not be termed as silly anymore. But in order to go forward in life, we must repent for a limited time, take the learnings out and move on. So, what was the learning?
One very prominent learning was ‘Lack of vocabulary’ among many others. Lack of ready to use repository of words to express the true feeling appropriately.
Vocabulary doesn’t sound essential but is good to have skill. We feel we know enough words to communicate our thoughts and get our job done. In some occasions, it felt like the individual is showing off when uses words which are not commonly used in daily spoken language. I have seen people are criticized often for using newer and difficult words.
In recent times the use of appropriate words to express feelings are diminishing and emojis and acronyms are used more generously. Unlike language, emojis and acronyms are not taught in school or part of mainstream education. Hence it is still can be considered slang and not at all a replacement for words.
This incident made me realize that if you are dealing with people then vocabulary is essential. When I observed further I realized stress, emotional outburst in form of anger, sorrow or fear as well as depression is the result of our inability to express our emotions appropriately in front of right people. In India, we all are brought up by listening to our mother tongue but use English for career and business. This makes us learn mother tongue enough to talk to family, near and dear ones and learn English enough to make sure our career or business keep moving. We do not develop vocabulary in either of these as we do not realize the need.
But now I realize its a need and must be fulfilled. For a better emotional health of the society, it is essential that we build enough vocabulary to express ourselves appropriately.
In our college days, we used to refer Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis. But Now I see we have many options to improve vocabulary. The top result in google for the question ‘How to Improve Vocabulary’ points to Enhance My Vocabulary which has very good tips. But the top two things I would suggest are read good books and apply the newly learned words appropriately. I am sure soon I will be able to enhance my vocabulary to ensure I never make such mistakes again.
A fallible individual
2 thoughts on “Mind your Language”
I agree, Vocabulary is very important, not only to managers but to every individual, who wants to express his/her own thoughts to the opposite person/group, so that the message or thought is delivered properly to the target audience as per his/her expectations.
Its only words and words all we have to take others heart away. 🙂
I will also moving ahead start reading books and try to use new words appropriately and build my vocabulary.
Thanks Sakti !!!
I like your sincere efforts towards Sachin. Maybe he misunderstood the conversation and took it personally. But remember conversations like this will trigger new things, new learning and new aspirations may also multiple his energy and passion. So please continue to have those sort of conversations going.
BTW, Sachin is lucky to have a leader like you described in your blog.