don't explain - TELL

Listed under Things I've Learned Since I Went To Work:

When speaking with Someone Important, someone with limited time or attention for a trivial matter (and most matters are trivial) don't explain - TELL. Important people don't have time to listen to a lot of details, especially if those details outline the emotional aspects of a situation. Important people aren't interested in the emotional aspects of a situation, they need you to cut to the chase, to give them the meat of the issue and then, perhaps, you should ask for their input.

Do not whine, do not complain, yet do not hesitate to speak of what ails you. The person to whom you are speaking does not have time for this and does not wish to be burdened with histrionics, even when mild.

Speak with some conviction, even if you may be wrong. It would be better, however, if you were not wrong.

Before you approach this person think for a moment. Is this really something you need to involve The Important Person in? Might your issue be better presented to someone else? Or do you just want face-time?

I think it is best to avoid bringing anyone else into conversation when an error is pointed out. Important People don't care that you didn't have the printout at nine in the morning because the woman who gives it to you each day was out sick. They only care that you don't have the printout.

Being the Assistant of an Important Person precludes one from certain activities such as: getting drunk in the office, wearing inappropriate clothing, being rude to co-workers (even if they are rude to you), petty gossip.

Please note: these are things I have learned and not, necessarily, things I have experienced first hand. I've not yet been drunk in the office.


I call the "don't explain, tell" concept "Don't build the clock, just tell me the time.".

The things you've learned working should be posted in every office break room.
Anonymous said…
This sounds very "Devils wears Prada"ish to me.
I picture you, gorgeous and funny and very good at your job, running after some extremely busy IP, filling in, smoothing out and all that drama. But in the end, YOU are the star!

PS I think you chose wisely not to get drunk in the office, yet.
Ree said…
Excellent learnings...

kayare said…
You are on the mark. :)
Anonymous said…
I think if you're an EMPLOYEE (not even necessarily of an important person) you shouldn't get drunk in the office, wearing inappropriate clothing, be rude to co-workers (even if they are rude to you), or petty gossip.

I think it's called professionalism, or on second though, common sense. Not to minimize what you said, but who are the idiots who think those are good ideas? Or better yet, good career moves?

Anonymous said…
I love Motorcycle Grandma's comment. Next time my husband embarks on a long and extremely complicated explanation for something, I shall him, "Don't build the clock, just tell me the time."
Sharon said…
eurolush said…
People. People. People. Relax. Quit the self-righteous indigination. Let's get real here. Getting drunk, being rude, spreading petty gossip and wearing inappropriate clothing in the unprofessional? Great. Why don't we to take all the fun out of going to work, shall we?
Mary said…
I too loved the "yet"...
Julia said…
Great, spot on, list!! I do the same thing with emails to VIPs too, writing bullet points, rather than paragraphs.

It has affected my writing though:
+ I'm much more terse
+ And lean toward outline
Badger said…
Well, sometimes the Important People are assholes. But enough about MY work history....
I think this self-censorship applies in a lot of situations. Mr. D wants to print this out and post it at his office--I'm thinking of two assistants in particular who would benefit from following this kind advice!
Glad you learned NOT to show all your cleavage at the office (hahaha).
catsteevens said…
Ay-men. I wish I could post this at my work :)

I got drunk at work (once) when I was a waitress. I got the biggest tips that day!
Anonymous said…
Very good advice. Ugh. I have to go back to work a week from Monday. Waah!


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