Are You Penny-Wise but Pound-Foolish When You Talk?

If I looked up the idiom “Bull in a china shop,” it would not have surprised me if I saw Claudia’s face staring back at me.


Claudia had been raised to be a fighter, whether in school, sports, family dynamics, or otherwise, and it definitely carried over into her work.


Her management style was a combination of “get it right the first time,” “I’m your boss, not your babysitter,” and “it’s far more important to be clear and direct than to be nice.”


If you predicted that corporate leadership brought me in to work with her on diplomacy skills, you’d be right.


“I’m busy!” she protested. “Everyone is so sensitive. I don’t mince words, I just call it like it is. I don’t have time to beat around the                      bush with people and be all nicey-nicey.”

“Let me ask you a question,” I prefaced. “Have you ever heard the phrase, ‘if you don’t have time to do it right, when will you                 have time to do it over’?”


She slumped back in her chair, as if a bit deflated. “No,” she said, “but I get it.”


“It’s not about flipping a coin between being clear or being nice. Sometimes just taking the time to think about the best way to convey a message will save far more time later when you don’t have to go back and make corrections or smooth ruffled feathers.”


Not taking the time to make conscious, careful choices when preparing message content, mode, and delivery style is the speech equivalent of being “penny-wise but pound foolish”.


That's a major theme this week on multiple levels!


In this week’s Speaking to Influence episode, Geoff Gross, CEO of Medical Guardian, shared how it once took him three tries before he learned this lesson.


He described how he wanted to discuss giving an outstanding employee a promotion and a raise, and tried to bring it up at two different meetings. But since that issue was not on the agenda for either meeting, he rushed the point through at the end and was dismissed with a “no” both times.


The third time he got it right. He spent two hours on a Saturday thinking about how to frame his proposal and writing up the background to send to the leadership team in advance of the next meeting. He also got the issue added to the agenda.


In no time flat, he got the “yes” he was looking for.



Sometimes we forget that what's a “no-brainer” to us is, well, a “brainer” for others. We can’t simply assume that because of our role, title, or reputation, people will just agree.


(Did you miss that conversation about mistakenly wishing for “rubber-stamp approval” in Kelley Morse’s episode last week? If so, check it out here.)


Tune in to hear more great insights from Geoff regarding:


  • What he learned from a phone call with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg(!)
  • How he has learned how to adjust and adapt from a company of one to more than 350 employees with sustained growth
  • The power of a hand-written note for both appreciation and apologies
  • How to make every client feel as important as a Supreme Court Justice


Listen to the full conversation here or watch the video on YouTube here.


And speaking of the importance of taking the time to frame and deliver a message carefully, join me this week on Linkedin Live to explore “How to Instill Confidence in Uncertain Times” on Friday, January 13, 2023 from 12:00 Noon to 1:00PM EST.


With mega-companies like Salesforce, Amazon and McDonalds announcing or projecting layoffs, the potential ripple effect of instability leading to panic leading to crisis on micro and macro levels has never been more real.


Need to instill trust, calm and stability in your people? RSVP for the event here.