[March 1, 2021] Good communication is one of the keys to successful leadership. We all know this to be true because we have all witnessed what happens when what we say is unclear, meandering, insulting, or off-topic. Great leaders are always on guard against dismissive words.
“We prematurely write off people as failures. We are too much in awe of those who succeed and far too dismissive of those who fail.” – Malcolm Gladwell
Regular readers of this leadership blog know a consistent theme: real leaders who care, make practical and moral decisions. To care means taking care of yourself, your family, your community, and your team. Thus, a leader’s words do matter.
Here are some common words (or phrases) that you will hear careless leaders say. I would wager good money you have heard them many times, and I would also wager you were ticked off, as well. There are many more, of course, and I suggest readers post them in the comments section.
- I got it. Listening and then saying, “thank you” is far more appropriate. I stopped using this in conversations, and it was not easy. I’d not realized how ingrained it was for me.
- It’s not about you. This phrase is a way of saying that your thoughts and actions are not relevant to the conversation and just “shut up.”
- That’s for later. The phrase is in response to a clearly stated idea, or initiative is dismissive. Pushing off an idea until an undefined “later” doesn’t do any good to the person who said it or the person who heard it
- It is what it is. This phrase is the ultimate in shirking responsibility. It’s an explanation that explains absolutely nothing. We are saying that tradition and inertia are more important and more attractive than actually trying to do something about a problem or condition.
- That’s a stupid idea. This phrase might fly with your friends, but not in the workplace, and actually not with your friends. No one should be told their idea is “stupid,” even if it is.
- That’s not my problem. How gut-wrenching does it feel when you come to someone with a problem, and they respond with, “It’s not my problem.” The person using this phrase is also saying, “Get lost!”
- Thanks, but we have tried that before. Such words suggest in a big way that you are not smart enough to think of an original solution to a problem.
- Good luck with that. Another trivializing of someone’s’ ideas. This saying is a flippant way of communicating that you, as a leader, do not care what is being said or done.
- It’s not about you. This is a sweeping generalization that takes everything others say and negates it. It says that they’re only thinking about their own needs and desires.
- It’s not rocket science. Whenever a team or employee struggles with a task and thinks it should be much easier than it is, this dismissive statement is often the go-to phrase. In reality, the phrase adds nothing to the conversation except insulting others.