While there are certainly moments when fluff and niceties can be an asset to you as a business owner, there are times when there’s just nothing better than straight talk. You’ve gotta put it out there, be honest, and save the rest for another day.
But it can be tough to know when to use this tactic. Will you make someone mad? Will you lose a potential client? Will your team get pissed off at you and storm out of the room? (Let’s hope not.)
There are 5 specific moments when you should employ straight talk in business. Let’s look at each one and see why it’s so important.
It can be so tempting to talk up your workplace culture, your office environment—event the job itself when trying to recruit top talent for your business. But the danger in not using straight talk during these conversations is that you could be presenting an unrealistic representation of your business, the job, and the realities of the opportunity at hand.
How to straight talk: Don’t use the bait and switch. Instead of pumping things up, be honest about both the obstacles and opportunities that come with what you can offer. A good recruit will want a job with challenges and room to grow—not a cake job that’s easy (and ultimately boring.)
While Giving Employee Feedback
Have you ever sandwiched your honest feedback between compliments during employee review sessions? Lots of business owners are trained to do this, but it can actually be more harmful than helpful. Instead of being able to hear what they need to improve upon, employees hear lots of positive feedback and a few minor suggestions for improvement—so they think they’re good to go.
How to straight talk: Instead of being overly worried about hurting your employee’s feelings, offer constructive criticism and positive feedback separately. This makes your review session more effective, clear, and honest—and enable your employees to do the same with you.
In Your Marketing Messages
People can cut through the fluff pretty easily—especially online where attention spans are short. Businesses worry that without the meaningless words and introductory images, they’ll lose the attention of their audience. But guess what? People want honest information in a simple format. Period.
How to straight talk: When presenting your marketing messages, it’s important to remember that people want the essence of what you have to say—the rest is garbage. Ditch the chatty, mindless, non-essential words in your marketing. Be clear, concise, and don’t waste peoples’ time.
When Gathering Feedback from Clients
Yes, it’s nice to hear positive feedback from clients who tell you how wonderful you are, the fantastic value you provide, etc. But you have to leave a little room in there for straight talk, too—that’s how you learn to improve your business! Without it, you’ll continue doing the same thing forever…and making the same mistakes over and over.
How to straight talk: Don’t hide behind a survey. Reach out to your clients for honest feedback by asking questions like, “What can I do to improve?” and “What areas of my process do you think could be better?” Take these answers and hard wire them into your business moving forward.
In Sales Situations
When you want to close a deal, it seems like a no-brainer to say whatever you need to say to make the client happy. But I want you to pause here for a second. Think about answering questions honestly first.
Here’s an example of why this is important: Say you’re meeting with a client who asks if you have experience within the food industry. You don’t—and you could answer honestly, or name some other businesses that kind of tie-in with food. If you are up front about your lack of experience, you could be building greater trust with your client—or you could save the two of you from going into a bad relationship.
How to straight talk: Follow up questions like, “Do you have experience with X?” with an honest answer and, “Does this make an impact on your interest in working with me?” Use straight talk to follow up and get right to the heart of the question at hand. You’ll save both parties a lot of time.
Straight Talk in Business: An Essential
You’ve heard “don’t sugar coat it” before—and in business, that attitude is surely appreciated. Use straight talk in your business to communicate honestly and effectively…save the fluffy words for awkward conversations with your kids.