One of the ways you immediately know when someone is junior is when they "follow the book".  They talk like they're reading from a script.  They greet you with unnecessary formalities and communicate with you like they "think they should".  There is absolutely nothing wrong with this except that it doesn't feel genuine and tells the person on the other end of the conversation that you're kind of new at this.

On the flip side, I was told recently that a client thought I was "too casual".  My immediate reaction was embarrassment and then feeling that I needed to explain myself.  I kept my cool and agreed that it was kind of my custom to deal with clients like people and that because of my long term relationships that I could get too comfortable sometimes.

It got me to start thinking.... hrmmm...maybe I AM too casual?  Maybe I've gotten cavalier with how I talk to my customers.  After all, they are still "customers".  They should be treated with respect (which I think I do).  This goes for candidates as well.  My "style" is to make the other party comfortable with me by letting them know I'm not reading form a script and am sincere about my interests.  

Have you ever been accused of being too formal or casual?

Views: 538

Comment by Tiffany Branch on July 2, 2012 at 8:50am

I think you have to know your audience. In some organizations, they want the canned, steril, rehearsed, tried and true answers from an interviewee. Then there are some orgs who may be more "progressive" and they have a conversation vs the question/answer style. Just know that you may have to alter your style depending on the customer.

Comment by Tony Palm on July 2, 2012 at 12:13pm

I'm a retired Navy Chief Petty Officer, equivalent to a Gunnery Sergeant (USMC), or a Sergeant First Class (USA), all commonly called Senior Non-Commissioned Officers (NCO’s). Regardless of the branch, in the context of the US Military, there is a certain culturally acceptable way for senior NCO’s to speak to subordinates. The stereotypical cigar chewing sergeant, gruffly chewing out the privates in his care is based on reality, not just Hollywood taking dramatic license.

My recruiting efforts over the past 6 years have been focused on DoD centric reqs. The result is most of my candidates tend to be transitioning or veteran warfighters.

As a result, I tend to talk to warfighters in a coarse way that would never be acceptable for most civilian candidates. Sometimes, I get the two confused, and this is particularly true with candidates who act like knuckleheads. 

I’ve had a few ‘coaching’ sessions for my gruff demeanor and have modified my tone, becoming a somewhat ‘kinder/gentler’ recruiter. But with my cohort of warfighters, to quote a famous sailor: “I am what I am, and that’s all that I am”.

Within the narrow confines of the warrior culture, my tone of frank, harsh, and even severe criticism is intended to educate, even encourage, and is understood as such. But taken out of that limited context . . . not so much.

Comment by Eric Smith on July 5, 2012 at 1:18pm

You have to be yourself, no matter what. If you were new to the industry and making mistakes left and right--that would be one thing. Considering you've been in this industry for awhile and have been successful , why change now? We are always looking for ways to improve. But no matter what communication style one has, it's not for everyone. So if yours tends to be casual, then just be really good at being casual. It won't be for everyone, but it doesn't need to be.

Comment by Joshua Lee on July 8, 2012 at 9:27pm

Tiffany - excellent point.  Sometimes the obvious is easily forgotten.  

Tony - I like you already.  You and I have a lot in common.  In my opinion, the whole "PC" thing has gotten out of control.  People are scared to be "genuine" or "sincere".  I'd rather someone be honest with me, even if slightly racist then be so concerned about being sensitive that they fane pleasantries.  Never one of my favorite aspects of socializing.

Eric - I couldn't agree more.  I'm not trying to be the biggest most well known recruiter in the world.  I only want to work with a  select niche that have similar values that I share.  That's the only way I find that I truly get engaged and enjoy my work.

Thanks for all of your feedback!

Comment by on July 9, 2012 at 7:05am

I remember once being accused of being too casual and familiar with customers and told off for going into too much technical detail with them (this was an IT support type role).  My manager named a couple of customers who he said had complained that it felt like I was showing off.  Next time I spoke to those particular customers I apologised for being too casual and going into too much technical detail and explained it was just enthusiasm for the subject and I wasn't trying to show off.  They wanted to know why I was apologising because actually they liked the fact that I treated them like a human being and took the time to ask them how they were, if they'd had a good weekend &c and when I gave them the technical detail they appreciated that I explained the problem and how I solved it because, even if they didn't understand quite everything I said, the fact that I tried to explain it in plain Engish reassured them that I understood what I was doing and helped their confidence and trust in me and our organisation.  One even said that she worried when some of my colleagues called her because they didn't explain anything so she wondered if they did know what they were doing.  I explained that they did know, if anything they knew more than me, just they weren't that good at communicating to people outside of their field.

Comment by Joshua Lee on July 13, 2012 at 6:18pm

Over the years, both in personal and professional relationships, I've discovered that a) not everyone, including your own flesh and blood will agree with you and b) its not important if people necessarily agree but rather that there is honesty and mutual respect.  That, recognizing, identifying differences is different than hating someone or wanting to hurt someone because of those differences.  That sometimes differences are good because they help enrich our existence and make things more exciting.

It requires tremendous effort, time and pressure to make a diamond.  Likewise, it requires friction and heat to sharpen steel.  I think the problem is that there are people who are just professional complainers and they are the ones who happen to get the attention these days.  

Thanks again guys!  I feel better the same time, I'm making sure to make a mental note not to forget to stay alert as well.


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