The Moral of Miscommunication

In some corner of the city, someone envisioned another start-up. 

Bengaluru, high on entrepreneurial spirits, greeted a sunny Monday morning. Mr. Thapar, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of QuickMunch, reached office before the rest of the team members. He had to get his numbers ready for the investors meet on Friday.                                                                  

After going through the accounts department’s report, the CFO said, “We are facing cash flow problems. We need to rationalize our cash outflows before the next funding round.”

The day after, Mr. Anand, the Sales Manager of the Beverages division, sent the CFO an explanation of his department’s expenses, while the Sales Manager of the Snacks division, Mr. Brahma, sent a revised expense budget for his department asking for lesser budgetary allocation for the next quarter.

“Well done,” the CFO told Mr. Brahma.

Moral: Carefully decipher discreet thoughts.

Sensing an opportunity to prove her merit, Anamika, the newly appointed secretary sent an e-mail to the IT department asking them “to fix any bugs in the payment gateway of the company’s e-commerce site.” 

Next day, the bug was fixed and the HR Manager was asked to recruit someone else to replace Anamika.

Moral: Don’t take business jargon in the literal sense.

To fill the vacancy, the HR Manager started interviewing candidates.

The HR Manager asked the first candidate, “How would you sum up your life in a single sentence?”

First Candidate: “I have been through several ups and downs in my life, but through everything, I have always made efforts to get high.”

Amused by the reply, she smiled and rejected the candidate. 

Moral: Sometimes there are no benefits of the doubt.

The HR Manager asked the second candidate, “How long would you work for us, if hired?”

Second Candidate: “Madam, I would work for as many hours as required.” 

The candidate was rejected. 

Moral: Understand the context from the perspective of the speaker.

After the interview process, Aditya, a recent graduate from Stellar Management Institute was offered the role.

The manager asked Aditya, “We are facing severe resource crunch. Will you be able to work under pressure?”

Aditya hesitatingly replied, “I can, for some time. But Madam, I would need access to toilets.”

The manager barred Aditya from replying to clients’ e-mails.  

Moral: Beware of idiomatic usage.

It was Friday, the D Day. The executives were meeting the existing and potential investors for the next round of funding. The CEO was anxious as the company grew marginally over the last year. 

One of the investors said, “My apologies. My investment would be more productive if I didn’t have to invest on wasting.”

Stunned by the remark, the CEO asked, “Why do you say so?” 

The investor pointed at a poster in the company’s office-canteen. It read: “Waste Less Food.”

Moral: Wasting is bad, even in “Less” amount. 

The very next day, the CFO scheduled an emergency team meeting with the General Manager, the Senior Sales Managers, and the Executives for a probable solution. After a long meeting of three hours, he asked the Sales team members to pass on their proposals. After reviewing them, he told the Vertical Head to “go ahead.”

Aakash and Ashutosh, two highly motivated Sales Assistants, got underway with their plans, keeping in mind their goals for that month.

A month later, in the Sales Review Meeting, Aakash was declared “Star Performer of the Month,” though the entire team fell short of the target by a margin of 8%. In order to find out the best approach, the Senior Sales Managers, along with their teams, brainstormed all ideas and tried to understand how Aakash outperformed his fellow executive. They gave both Aakash and Ashutosh a hypothetical case and asked them to pitch.

“So, adopting this technology will lead to a savings of INR 5000 per year,” concluded Ashutosh.

“By not adopting this technology, you incur a loss of INR 5000 annually,” pitched Aakash.

Moral:  How + What > What.

“Your performance is not bad,” the Senior Manager Brahma consoled Ashutosh. But the very next day, much to his surprise, Ashutosh resigned. 

“But I had told him that his performance was good,” Brahma commented. He had no clue why Ashutosh had left.

On hearing this, Ashutosh mentioned that while his current manager was “not bad,” he wanted to work with someone “good.”

Moral: Not bad != Good

Meanwhile, Aditya was settling in his new job. He reported directly to Aakash. But new problems piled up. Aditya greeted an intern as soon as she walked into the office, and looking at her, he complimented, “What a lovely skirt!”

He was served a notice for “sexual harassment at work.” When a woman walks into an office, it seems, you find the men who need to walk out.

Moral: Choose your words for compliments carefully.

Aditya is rarely at the scheduled start of 9:30 AM at the office.  

He texted at 9:40 AM: “sir i m cumming!!!  wl b a bit late…”

Aakash replied, “That’s quite a situation! Come when you are GTG.”

Moral: FYI, use short forms judiciously.

Aakash consistently delivered impressive performance over the next months. Recognizing his contributions, the management promoted him to Sales Manager. He became the youngest manager in the short history of the company. On a Saturday night, Aakash went out to celebrate with his friends. 

Enchanted by a gorgeous lady at the club, Aakash proceeded to ask her, “Hi! How you doing?”

“I am doing better than your grammar,” replied she.  

Moral: Bad grammar makes bad first impressions.

His best friend, Varun, who could not make it to the party, called him up the next morning and asked, “How did the party go?”

The reply came, “I enjoyed like anything.”

“In that case, I guess, I should ask ‘anything’ about how it liked the party.”

A face-palm moment followed. 

Moral: Stop doing things like “anything.”

To be continued…


With inputs from my mentees Dhruv Mohta, Rahul Agarwal, Smriti Singh, and Srija Chakraborty.

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