The first lesson I learnt when I entered the corporate world was about communication. I always fancied myself as a good, confident communicator – both verbal and non-verbal. Language was not a problem. Infact that’s what had landed me the job in the first place. So I thought I was in good shape but that conviction lasted only till my first few days at work.
I think this incident took place towards the end of my first week at work, some time in May 05. My company provided us with provisional accommodation for 15 days, within which, we were supposed to hunt for a suitable place to stay for ourselves. So I decided to ask people for help. After all, this was my first trip to Bangalore. I could use all the help that I can get. And, who better than my boss to ask. He seemed like a nice, sensible guy. Surely he would help me out. All I need to do is ask. That’s what he told me.
So, ask I did. While we were walking to the cafeteria. And here’s how that conversation went:
MS: (In a low tone) umm…Boss, As you are aware…….
AB: Pardon? Sorry can’t hear you.
MS: (Louder and nervously) Actually..uh..I am staying at this hotel…and..umm we got just 15 days to find a house..so uh…just wanted to know…..actually, where do you stay? Coz the thing is…I’m new here so uh…don’t really know any places…….and I thought if you knew any…….
AB: What? (Confused)
MS: (Took a deep breath and tried to compose myself) Boss, do you know any real estate agents who could help me find a house?
AB: Oh, that…OK. Hang on. (Takes out his cell phone) Here, note this number. Call this guy. He helped me find a good place.
AB: Actually, let me call him up right away.
This small incident thought me big lessons:
1. Be audible and clear
2. Be concise and to the point
3. Speak only when you need to speak. Timing is everything.
These are the basics of business communication. Till today, I haven’t forgotten that incident.
Note: AB was my boss till my last day at work there. I considered him my mentor and, for the two n a half years that I worked with him, went to him for all kinds of advice, both professional and personal. I am still in touch with him, despite both of us moving on. More on him in a later post.