So, basically, what I am trying to get at is if we look at the basics of all basic things, then we can basically affirm the basic-ness of all non-basic things! Basically…
I have a confession to make. The Soodesh lexicon sometimes contains overused words. The word “basically” pops up in every sentence I utter whilst engaging in general conversation. The word “basically” used to automatically find its way out of my trap hole during meetings. The word “basically” tends to form the beginning, sub-beginning, middle and all the subs right up to the final part of delivering my mish-mash muddled waffle STAR examples during interviews. BASIC-ERR-LEE.
Having spent my whole career having meetings over meetings over meetings’ meetings, I always felt confident to ask questions where a cloud of uncertainty hovered over my head about some genius idea to strategically rebrand and launch new products. In my head, I could speak the corporate language that is needed to see the nodding of heads in agreement or the nod-head-out-of-politeness in the meeting room. In my head. I even used to rehearse any of my concerns, ideas, observations, anything that might earn me Big Cheese Brownie Points (come on, you know it’s why some of us can’t keep our cake hole’s shut during meetings) before I open my mouth. Then the unthinkable happens. I hear my own heart beat (I completely get that idiom)…“so basically…” At that point, I see everyone’s eyes glazing in my direction, causing me to attempt swallowing my own uvula. Then the feeling of disappointment at failing to deliver that all important, yet unmentioned potential strategic solution kicks me right in the nuts.
From that moment on there is a sense of paranoia that an impression is created. A negative one. I do it again in subsequent meetings then lo and behold I notice during that all intense interview I’m doing it again. Nerves. Nerves rising at hearing my own horrid solo voice. Nerves rising that there will be disagreement and someone will throw some complex contradiction my way. Nerves rising that I will trip over each word trying to string together an unrehearsed weak answer in response and plummet all Big Cheese Brownie Points into minus digits.
Meetings are always a funny place to be. There are certain categories of colleagues in any team who would be screaming for attention in their own way. I’ve handpicked the following:
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Slickly dressed, always at the ready to clickety-clack their Louboutin’s up and down the office, flickety-flack their hair and will slit their eyes to create intensity whilst they speak. And they are very N-O-T-I-C-E-D. They have already somehow created powerful prospects for themselves within the organisation.
This person category consumes EVERYTHING. They analyse whilst they consume and report back in those all important departmental meetings. They are reliable because they deliver insight. You don’t necessarily understand their insight delivery, but somehow, Big Cheese gets it.
The person who tries to validate everything through dry (as in awfully boring leaving you thinking “what the fuck are you on?” humour). The humour veers every now and then into very posh-tosh spiel, but the seriousness is just not convincing.
Oh my goodness do these guys moan? About E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. They drag themselves reluctantly to meetings (sometimes eagerly to let off some steam). Sat in the corner of the room they remain sombre and continue to sulk until an opportunity presents itself for them to rise up, deliver and moan about how it’s the “world” (the employer) against “them” (the employee). After realising that the weight of professionalism presses too heavily against their cynical breast, receiving no expected uproar in response, they hide in the hole they just dug for themselves. Until the next meeting.
The Shy Observer
Says nothing. They watch. Turn their heads towards each direction of oral delivery in the room as if spectating at a Wimbledon match. They agree with everything. Even if one person speaks up in disagreement, they will nod and agree with the disagreement as well as nod with the agreement. They leave the meeting having said nothing throughout and without any opinion.
They talk when they feel it is necessary. The Challenger will silently observe and digest what is being said in that meeting. They analyse the big picture, finding the flaws and will be ready to highlight these in as concise and cutting delivery possible. They bring that room down into silence. THEY ARE FEARED. THEY POSE A THREAT. They are very rarely listened to.
Has key ideas and information to share. They analyse the minutest detail because they want to make sure everything they might say is backed up with everything they have thought about. They want to be Vamp, Geek and Challenger rolled into one, and may throw in a couple of lines regarded as more high-brow than the Clown. But they fail on delivery. Basically. Because they try too hard. Basically.
I’m sure many of us have encountered a few more types, but the above are the ones which really stand out to me.
For a long time I fell into The Waffler category. Through years of realising my flaw I tried to self-coach and anchor myself out of those bad habits because, to put it simply, no one cared about what I had to say! They were simply entertained by the way I delivered it. Then 4 years of having to deliver public commentaries and formal speeches at large scale cultural events was enough to make me realise the scale of the problem. “Basically” would drag a planned 5 minute spiel to 23 minutes. A planned 10 minute spiel to 32 minutes. Members of the committee would stand around, setting off their stopwatch on their smartphones timing me. Tarnished reputation right there.
The past nine months has definitely borrowed me time to coach myself out of this cringe-tastic habit. Seven interviews and three presentations has allowed me to test and provide the evidence on me having become basically stripped. That’s all well and good…until I hear my two older boys “basically” speaking. So the battle thus continues whilst I try and unclone my offspring.
A bolt of lightening in the form of an uncomfortable flashback nearly punctured my brain just now. Sitting in a big departmental meeting where my then-manager thanked everyone in the team and had something to say about each of their professional character in some quirky way. This manager completely missed me off the list. No seriously. N-O-N E-X-I-S-T-E-N-T M-O-I. Ouch.