Updated: Dec 2, 2020
Keep It Simple Silly... also known as K.I.S.S.
I learned this acronym in college, when I found myself using big words to impress my African Studies professor. Sometimes we go out of our way to be extra when the most important thing to do is truly slow it down and keep it basic. This is very true in many facets of corporate behavior.
When you're building relationships with your colleagues through team projects, department meetings and break room chats, more often then not it's better to say what you have to say and shut up. In passing, when Darren ask's "How was your weekend?" he doesn't want a 10 minute review day by day - he's looking for a quick and brief response that answers the question and summarizes your time off. For example, you could say "It was great! We took the kids to Coney Island for a little sun and fun; how was yours?"
Once or twice (or three times but who's counting) I've been the victim of my own words - talking too much due to being uncomfortable or nervous, or typing an obnoxiously long email to prove my point. In both scenarios I wish my animators could have drawn a zipper over my mouth or erased my fingers to stop me before I kept going but because this is real life I learned my lesson after the fact.
First and foremost if you don't pay attention to anything else I've ever written on my blog, please hear this: emails are forever. Proving your point, guessing the answer to a question or making snarky comments will always be history that your company can look at (even after you're terminated) or that may revisit you in a performance review one day.Try to remember before you hit send, to save as a draft and come back - if after a second look you still want to say the same words, then go for it.
Another time it is best to K.I.S.S. is corporate lunches. In my second corporate position I was asked to lunch with the CFO and CHRO. We went to a local spot just down the road, very simple and laid back. They ordered tea and salads, one grilled chicken and one cobb if I remember correctly. I ordered a cheeseburger and fries [shameful, just shameful]. An unspoken rule of lunch with your coworkers, especially anyone from C-Suite is: order simple and easy food. This is not the time for a cheeseburger with fries, pizza, tacos, or chicken tenders - do not order anything you need your hands to eat. You are at this lunch to converse and need to be cognizant of everyone's time. Salads generally arrive to the table quickly when ordered and they are the best meal option to eat and talk.
We like to think everything we have to say is valuable to the ears of our peers, but the truth is it's not. Sometimes elaboration is necessary - nothing is more annoying than trying to understand what happened and the story teller is not actually telling any details! All I'm saying is before you go off on a tangent about being up all night with your sick kid think about who really cares to hear it. Sure, there are a few who will empathize and share like stories with you, but the masses are not interested in your day to day ailments. Likewise, your office is full of intelligent professionals who aren't interested in your overuse of Webster's Top 10 Most Unknown Words. To reiterate, when emailing, engaging in light chatter or having casual lunch with executives, keep it simple stupid... i mean silly!