Nobody Likes Surprises

As you try to manage your career and get ahead in your world, simple rules can be helpful. I take inspiration from the American TV drama “NCIS” which features “Gibbs’ Rules” as a running theme throughout the show. It occurs to me that there may be many comparable rules in business and in life. Here is one that which is frequently illustrated in business, usually inadvertently.

If you have something to say in a meeting or other relatively public forum, news that involves a coworker, discuss with that person one-on-one before making your public announcement. Meet them in advance and share with them what you plan to say. This offers several benefits.

First, knowing that you will say it to the person’s face generally will temper what you say; make it less controversial, defamatory or accusatory. Telling them directly not only removes the surprise but gives the other person the opportunity to remedy the issue if it be negative or prepare a response.

Second, the other person, regardless of any unhappiness caused by your announcement, will appreciate that you gave them a heads up. The two of you might even work together to engineer a result of your announcement. Some folks might call this spin; I’d call it good planning, eliminating further surprises for others.

Third, having shared the news privately can avoid ugly confrontations during meetings. Meetings will proceed more harmoniously and you will be less likely to upset your colleagues.

Fourth, when practiced consistently this will improve your reputation among peers as someone who can be trusted not to throw others under the bus.

So remember, nobody likes surprises.

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