And finally, get it done elegantly

The first day on the job I sat down with one of my managers. After going through the major tasks and responsibilities and the organization of the team, I said, I really want to do a good job, so I’m wondering what are the major expectations you have on me as an analyst? 

My manager smiled: well there are three folds basically: get your job done; get it done well and efficiently; get it done elegantly. He said yes client relationship management and communication is, at the end of the day, an art. It is hard to explain what kind of “elegance” is involved but you will understand along the way. 

And it’s been two years since, and then finally I realized what it means to do your job “elegantly”. It means say what you have to say and do what you have to do At EASE. Never be desperate. Never freak out. No matter how dire the situation may be. 

I met this girl a few weekends ago, and the third sentence she said was the scream of “I don’t have a job and I’ve been trying for 2 months already (oh my God, is 2 months a long time in this market?) What else should I do? Help me Help me Help me!” 

That is what you call desperate. That is what you call that guy who sends messages to his crush on facebook every other day, not getting a response, and still do so day after day. This is what you call the boss who yells at you every 5 minutes to check the updates on the presentation book while you know you’re in perfect control and are keeping a good pace coordinating among 5, 6 managers. You don’t want to leave such an impression.

The people you are dating or the people you work with: They are not stupid. They know what they are doing. And when they are not doing what you think they should be doing, probably they have some very good reasons. 

I admit every relationship has its own compromises to make and every job has its own frustration that we have to deal with. But at the end of the day, you want other people to trust you, trust your ability and trust your character. At times you may need to “frame” your language when you communicate something that’s not so pleasant to hear’; at times you may need to kiss someone’s ass knowing you wouldn’t have done so should you be in another position; and at times it just comes out so naturally you don’t even have to deliberately rephrase: it’s almost like you mean it; it’s almost like it really comes from you. 

There we go. Congratulations on becoming a true representative of the American corporate world. This is the soft skills we’re talking about. This is the subtle ingredient that cannot be taught but will be learned, if you observe carefully, and if you do want to excel.

Some people cannot deal with it. So they become entrepreneurs. Or they go home and work on their own farm. If you do want to stay in the big corporate world though, you know what you have to do to go a long way.

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  1. Yuqing Deng
    October 26, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    “Excellence is a habit.” I forgot who said it. It is the natural product of satisfying internalized standards. I would not say I WANT people to trust me.
    I would just do things my way and sensible people should trust me. Then I might
    play a trick and fail them once or twice elegantly with grace. 🙂

  1. February 8, 2011 at 12:20 am
  2. March 18, 2011 at 1:02 am

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