Critiquing a colleague's HR reply after I did a phonescreen.
This is what he wrote -
Sebastian Marshall enjoyed speaking with you today. We'd like to have you come into the office for a follow up discussion. Please confirm which time on Monday the 5th works best for you:
I've attached a map to our office location. The address is as follows:
Have a great weekend, and see you next week.
It's modeled off a successful consulting company's HR process, but I don't like it at all. Here was my feedback -
"Sebastian Marshall enjoyed speaking with you today. We'd like to have you come into the office for a follow up discussion. Please confirm which time on Monday the 5th works best for you:"
Too formal, slightly weak.
"The next step is to have you in the office for an interview. We have these times available on Monday the 5th, please confirm which works best for you"
"follow up discussion" is too weak - should be interview.
"enjoyed speaking with you" is kind of weak.
"Please confirm which time" is too strong/aggressive.
Also "Have a great weekend, and see you next week." is too assumptive, which can also be weak/strong.
Interestingly, weak and strong tend to be next to each other on the spectrum - someone weak acts strong, so it's artificial. Anyway, it's fine for a formal consulting company I guess, but not our style. More blunt, somewhat terse, but strong in a friendly way and very direct is the way for us to go.
For the blog, more analysis -
Everything you've been taught about being professional is wrong. It has this weak pathetic sickly-sweet politeness combined with this passive-aggressive pathetic demanding pseudo-strength.
Again, "Sebastian Marshall enjoyed speaking with you today" is a pseudo-polite waste of words. "We'd like to have you come into the office for a follow up discussion" is a lie, we'd like to have a brutal fuckin' interview. "Please confirm which time" is that bullshit pseudo-strength and not friendly enough.
I particularly dislike the "Have a great weekend, and see you next week." which is the kind of stuff that that executives with small dicks write to make themselves feel better.
Again, this isn't a knock on my colleague - who learned it from big corporate land. It's a knock on the whole corporate world, who waste words and time, who act weak much of the time, who have this faux strength in order to cover up for no real substance, and close out with smug weasel nonsense at the end.
(...man, being radically honest is cool. I'm having so much fun.)
I read your post yesterday and today I saw this: https://www.thepaypalblog.com/2011/12/regretsy-issue-resolution/
Made me chuckle.
Just read your "Steel on the Inside. Silk on the Outside" post. And I think we actually agree on this...
Thanks for clarifying. Saw the "[Chinese address]" and inferred the context. An Arab in China then?
I agree the writing in that email could have been much clearer. I'd love to see the template you'd prefer.
In Asian styles of communicating power, there is sometimes a polarity of hard-soft, yin-yang that might come across to blunt Westerners as too soft. When one is strong, one acts weak to throw off others. When one bluffs, one acts stronger to throw off others. It's just a part of the styles of Asian power.
Also, there is a lot of deference already built into the East Asian languages, e.g., the honorific in Japanese. So to speak and write like an educated, cultured person, one has to engage in these formalities or risk coming off as an uneducated brute.
Seb, in your critique, you come like an arrogant Trump-style American hating on the indirect, formal style of communication found in Asian cultures.
I couldn't agree with you more.
The almost sleazy tone of typical office communication (especially in written form) with its palpable lack of balls has always put me off. So I drew a line at one point and stopped fiddling around with fake politeness and stale verbal vomit such as "Please be so kind as to look into this matter" or "Thank you for taking the time to meet". I switched to being direct and keeping things as simple as possible. And always use a slightly humorous tone. In fact, the more important the issue is, the more urgent or dramatic it can become, the more humorous my tone. Know why? If the situation is severe, and I'm confident enough in what I'm saying that I make it feel like a conversation over coffee with a close friend, people tend to fall in line and comply. It's fucking amazing what you can get people to do if you can make them smile while you take charge of the matter.
Two days ago, I researched all the lawyers and organizations in HK, looking for the best ones.
Yesterday, I retained top legal counsel (I paid 15,000 HKD for a 3 hour meeting. Ouch.)
Immediately after that, I scheduled a meeting with Senior Inspector Lai, and I filed a police report, which is published in full in the article, "Fight Corporate Violence: Marshall vs. Cathay Pacific Management."
I explained my position in, "To The People of Hong Kong: On Virtue, Authority, and Terror."
Today I contacted all the relevant trade unions that represent Cathay Pacific staff. I also reached out to numerous journalists, and I've been looking for the best contact info for Hong Kong Police. (There's multiple associations, but is there a definitive organization that protects on-duty officers? Is there a particular member of the HK Police I can contact to report officers being fraudulently put in harms' way?)
Question from a reader --
However, I'd say this -- Why are you cold calling, anyways?