Business Class: Choose your words wisely

By Randall Kenneth Jones

Originally published in the Naples Daily News
Friday, October 11, 2013

“How are you today?”

This question is an essential opening to many outbound business calls—the ultimate test to determine how the conversation is going to go.

For those on the receiving end, many issues impact the response such as workload, priorities and the caller’s perceived value.

Hertz Richard BroomeNonetheless, anyone who has experienced the awkward wait time between “How are you today?” and the reply should take heart at Hertz’s Richard Broome.

Note his recent response to my pre-arranged call: “I’m fine, thank you. So what are we talking about today?”

In roughly four seconds, Broome’s attentiveness and positive attitude spoke much louder than his words.

Thank you for calling on time. Please remind me of your objectives. Yes, you have my undivided attention. However, as I have a full schedule, can we please focus on the topic at hand?

And finally—I’m sorry, but I don’t have time to chat about the weather today.

Fair enough. Let’s go!

As Executive Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Communications of Hertz Holdings, Broome respectfully and skillfully set expectations and—irony alert—drove the conversation.

In person, Broome’s easy conversational style and inquisitive nature quickly combined to reveal the secret of his success: he simply loves the art of communication.

“I became fully conscious of the critical importance of good communication in law school,” he shares. “I was simultaneously subjected to a Socratic teaching approach by UConn law professors and also learning about effective communication working at the State Capitol in Hartford. Very different approaches, but both value accurate, precise and perceptive messaging.”

Broome would also come to learn that, “one of the keys to successful communication is taking ‘me’ out of the equation. I am never the audience.”

Words of wisdom for a what’s-in-it-for-me world.

Unless you are living under a linguistic rock, the oft-quoted idiom, “choose the right words,” should sound familiar.

However, is this phrase so common we have become too busy to apply its meaning?

“Proper communication should be the product of a lot of thoughtful work,” Broome advises. “Shoot from the hip and you’re likely to miss the target.”

Though he wisely suggests, “You must constantly think of the person who is going to receive your message,” Broome ultimately takes a more global view of the communication process. “The ‘planning’ before and the ‘follow through’ after are more important than the message itself.”

When all is said and done, Richard Broome not only loves words, he respects their power.

After all, when it comes to communicating ideas and beliefs, better planning and thoughtful consideration should greatly reduce the need for crisis management.

What’s more, with the myriad of online communication vehicles available today, a potential written or verbal communication crisis lurks around every corner.

For you technophiles who may still be confused about the importance of language: LOL, BRB, TTYL and 🙂 aren’t words.

Though these shortcuts may require less thought and save time, they are:


Broome’s bottom line: listen, think, plan, choose your words wisely and, above all, honor your commitments.

Marketing guru, business humoristprofessional-courtesy advocate, branded-content writer, creative-development consultant, and entertaining motivational speaker Randall Kenneth Jones is the creator of and the president of MindZoo, a marketing communications firm in Naples, Florida.

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