3 Ways to Lose Friends and Influence Nothing

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Do you want to experience the thrill of crossing the project management finish line with work you are tremendously proud of, and work that is the result of amazing team effort?

Do you want teammates and clients to know you are someone who cares about their needs and goals, and someone they can look to for guidance when the crap hits the fan?

If so, I want to help you. And I will do so by first pointing out three things you don’t want to do.

I call these…

Three Ways to Lose Friends and Influence Nothing


During the summer after graduating college, my friends and I went to the movies at least twice a week. It was great, but as the summer passed by, my friends started calling me “Siskel” because of my endless movie opinions.

It was with that nickname I learned something valuable.

There is a point where expressing opinions becomes annoyingly pompous. This is called pontificating.

You can offer countless reasons why “Bowfinger” is much funnier than “Big Daddy” (I still believe this)…

You can offer the greatest advice about how Facebook lookalike targeting is going to revolutionize the opportunities your client has to reach audiences with their stuff…

You can drop Marissa Mayer keynote stats about the amazing amount of times Tumblr sponsored posts get reblogged…

You can even go hardcore SEO and offer a critical analysis of whatever Matt Cutts said last week…or why his April Fools “changing shirt color video” wasn’t all that funny…

If pontificating is your approach, you’re being an ass.


Fact One: You are going to have to share bad news.

Fact Two: Most people don’t like sharing bad news.

Fact Three: Minimizing bad news is counterproductive.

If your client wants to add development functionality that stands outside the scope of the project, you cannot sugar coat the extra cost to the point of nonexistence.

You cannot placate your clients.

Frankly, I’ve learned this one the hard way.

Once, while working on a project, several requested changes were clearly outside of scope, yet it was really hard for me to share this news with the client. I didn’t want to upset anyone.

The reality is that my placating ways were incredibly counterproductive, because as much as the client appreciated my kindness and sincerity, they needed to know the truth so that a decision could be made.

Trust me our team didn’t appreciate my placating ways either. They are busy, and wishy-washy conversation on my part was impeding project process and completion.

The greater truth I needed to remember was that at the end of the day, everyone wants to get the project done.

You cannot placate your clients.


Procrastinating is so bad, I will use a miserable cliché to describe it.

If procrastinating is your bad apple, it will ruin the entire bunch of projects you are working on.

And while I think we can agree that procrastination renders projects dead in the water, I’d like to push this a bit further.

Procrastinating provides an opportunity for outstanding project tasks to fester and grow into unhealthy project anxieties.

You must avoid procrastinating at all costs.

But wait!

I don’t want to be completely negative. And to that end, here’s a “P” word describing something you should be doing:


You and I aren’t always going to get it right. We are all fallible, and the fact is we will still probably find ourselves pontificating, placating, and procrastinating from time to time.

But here’s the deal. In the midst of projects we should be perfecting our approach…perfecting who we are…perfecting the decisions we make and the words that we say.

Even today I caught myself pontificating on a client call. Afterwards I apologized to the team for the “turd polishing.” It happens. Move on. Don’t get stuck.

Instead, take time each day to focus on perfecting the work you do.

That’s what the team at Oneupweb has been doing since 1996. And the reality is that we do fail, but at the end of the day we get back up, and are even more relentless about perfecting our craft.

Trust me, this is one of the reasons people want to work with us.

{Image Credit: JD Hancock Flickr}

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