Thinking 'right' is not about 'correctly' or 'incorrectly', but more about 'inwardly' or 'outwardly'.

Kill the Messenger!

In earlier times, messages were usually delivered in person by a human envoy. Sometimes, as in war, for example, the messenger was sent from the enemy camp. An easily provoked combatant receiving such an overture could more easily vent anger on the messenger of the unpopular message than on its original author.

A modern day version of ‘kill the messenger‘ is very much evident in every business where the ‘Sales’ and ‘Marketing’ operations contain messengers (sales/mktg folks) who convey proposals to their clients with ridiculous words and phrases. The nature of their message forces the prospective buyer to rethink on associating with them!

Sometimes these messengers use them out of habit. Sometimes they use them because they think it’s okay to use hollow assertions to simply warm up their approach. I am sure you have seen some of these as a buyer!

  • We understand.. Understanding should be demonstrated and not claimed.
  • We believe, think, or feel.. Who cares? The customer doesn’t care what you think.
  • We intend to.. Either you do it, or you don’t. Who cares about your intentions?
  • We are devoted to or our highest priority is.. This is just another way of saying you intend to.
  • We desire your business.. Of course you do! But what about the customer’s needs?
  • We are committed.. Customers want results than your commitments!
  • We are pleased to submit.. Of course you are! The phrase has no meaning!
  • We will strive, try, or attempt.. What about actual delivery?
  • We would be honoured.. What about the feelings of the customer?
  • We can provide.. Either you do, or you don’t.
  • We value.. What about value to customer?
  • State-of-the-art.. This is overused and not credible.
  • The right choice.. Why? Prove it.
  • Uniquely qualified.. How? Prove it.
  • Best of breed/class.. How? Prove it.
  • Leading company, leading edge, pioneers, etc… Overused and not believable. Don’t damage your credibility by using it.
  • Top-quality.. Is there any other kind?
  • Comprehensive solutions.. As opposed to?
  • Fast growing.. Your ability to take customers’ money quickly is not exactly a selling point to the customer.

Messages as sampled above have a negative impact when used casually and insensitively in a business environment. The wrong choice of words often blocks communication on account of perceptions they deliver of hidden motives. One wrong word plants a seed of doubt. These seeds quickly grow, like weeds, and become difficult to control and overcome.

Do these organizations have any choice but to kill the messenger? – at least metaphorically!….Think Inward!


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Milind Wagh

Milind has been providing P&L leadership to MNCs, mid-stage businesses and new ventures over the last two decades and is credited for nurturing great teams for driving new self-funded initiatives from portfolio of ideas. 'Think Inward' attempts to explore matters of the mind that spur individuals and teams in addressing challenging situations and markets. It advocates the need to 'Think Inward' within ourselves. An Organization is all about human behaviour at work. The people; their mind-sets; their motivation and their emotions determine the nature of their 'emotional hooks' in that organization. 'Think Inward' attempts to decode these hooks and understand human behaviour at work.

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