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Termination by “Mr. Nice Guy”

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The humor publication The Onion has spoof editorial. The piece describes an annoying workplace conversation where the question, “Hey you got a second?”, is followed by the worst possible news. Although satire, this article offers a vivid picture of workplace communication gone bad.

The opinion column recounts a farcical “informal meeting” stuffed full of insincere undertones. In one excerpt, Katz portrays the obvious irony of a supervisor’s nonchalant attitude:

Hey man, whenever you get a sec—and it’s no biggie—I was hoping you could just pop on over to my office real quick so I can fire you.

Nothing to worry about. Trust me. Just a short little one-on-one session about you being fired. We’ll have a bit of unnecessary and degrading small talk and then I’ll clunkily segue into terminating your position here. I’ll follow up by apologizing like I care and that’ll be that. The whole thing will take a second out of your day. Promise.

Successful companies place a high value on employee contribution and professional respect. Phrases like “whenever you got a sec” and proposals for a “short little one-on-one session” are an attempt to downplay the impact of interrupting someone else’s work. Claims that you have “nothing to worry about” and should “trust me” are in fact signals to do the opposite! Being cornered into an impromptu meeting or small talk at the office defeats the purpose of business: to manage time and energy efficiently so we can get things done.

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© Flickr user WarmSleepy

Although most organizations do take employee termination more seriously than the made-up story from this comedy newspaper, we have all been subjected to fruitless invasions of our time and heard offhand comments that destroy our morale. Even the simplest of statements (such as “it’s not a big deal, but…”) can rattle an employee’s nerves. Cryptic messages have a polarizing effect and can lead to an uneasy and potentially counterproductive environment.

Workplace language can change moods, create resentment or bring unwanted stress. Used properly, however, one’s choice of words can also positively impact perspectives.  AccelaWork can do more than just analyze your company’s existing processes. We can review your flow of communication. We believe that how we talk about work is as important as how we complete tasks. Great organizations have satisfied stakeholders, who use positive language to support each other. Find out more about how you communicate and work together. Contact our business consulting experts today to arrange for a consultation.

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