Don’t listen to lazy people
Learn from critics, experts that dissent, those that adopt your mission but question the vision. Listen to lessons-learned from those that tried and failed. But don’t listen to lazy people.
Lazy people lean away from work and toward indolence. Lazy people are excuse makers, complainers, blame casters, and problem finders. They focus on not doing and avoidance. Actionable suggestions are met with, “Yeah, but …”
Lazy people minimize the exertion of others, “it was nothing,” they say. That’s because they don’t value work. They don’t appreciate the price of success – labor. They demoralize workers.
Listening to lazy people is like taking anchors into your soul and stuffing rocks in your pockets.
In my opinion, lazy people dream of success without disruption and rigor. Their idea bin overflows with shiny unused nuggets. They talk it but they don’t walk it.
Not everyone who complains or points out problems is lazy. I’ve seen ungrateful people work hard. Additionally, not doing as an exercise in efficiency is not lazy.
Listen to doers
The problems doers point out are more likely real rather than imagined. They say things like, “If you do it that way …”
Experienced doers suggest actionable items.
If you align experienced doers with your mission and vision, you’re more likely to enjoy valuable input and feedback.
Lazy people don’t lack dreams and ideas. They are full of suggestions that provide work for others. If you have a lazy person in your corner, plug your ears and beat feet.
Clear out the detractors, toxics, distractors and LAZY PEOPLE. Thanks Dan.
Addition by subtraction is the way to go. A small dedicated group of people is very powerful. Toxic distracters can take a hike.
A very important learning from your post today of not listening to lazy people. I shall also add not to pay attention to even negative minded people. They are the time wasters and demotivators. They will try to discourage you with ifs and buts talks, and will drag you to their level of thinking with miserable past experiences. It’s better to keep away from them and keep them under check if they are part of your team as colleagues or subordinates.
I usually get good ideas from youngsters and other positive-minded colleagues. They are encouraged and motivated to contribute in a team’s success. I have a tendency to ask questions and show my ignorance to enable them to guide me further by giving good freedom.
The simple formula is to give due importance as individuals, have their involvement and bring a sense of satisfaction for their singular/ collective contribution.
Dear Dr. Asher,
Thank you for dropping in today.
I particularly enjoy the idea of looking to youngsters for ideas. It makes perfect sense if you withhold what you know it gives others an opportunity to share what they know.
Sometimes our knowledge intimidates others. It can make them clam up.
Dr. Asher is a featured contributor on Leadership Freak. Read his bio at: http:leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/dr-asher
Dear Dr. Mrunal Asher,
Good points about negative minded people. One of the best leadership quality is to give freedom to lower level employees to question openly. This opens platform of ideas and creativity which most of the position centric leader avoid and do not understand it. Actually giving feedom to juniors and subordinates need more courage and that is real leadership.
Love the concept – it reminds me of a Chinese proverb I came accross recently: “Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.”
I’ll also add this: I believe it’s important not to assume others are lazy too quickly. Someone who at first appears lazy (as in, not taking action on ideas, has feedback but no concrete next steps, etc.), may simply be a person who feels his/her hands are tied, but hasn’t given up yet.
I’ve seen people who, in organizations with a lot of management layers, have good insightful ideas that could add value, but are used to seeing good ideas get sucked up and lost by the beauracracy machine.
Good leaders should not ignore people like this – they should help them find ways to identify the really good ideas and move them forward.
Thanks for adding value.
Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. While writing this post I grappled with the issue you point out. Your advice to withhold judgement makes sense to me.
I’ll add that we shouldn’t judge negative people too quickly either. Sometimes they have a high need to succeed so it takes them some time to find their path to success. That process can look like negativity.
Always a pleasure seeing you join the conversation.
I love the Chinese proverb, Tim!
When I started my company people thought I was NUTS. Crazy. Off my rocker. “You have a job, Why would you expose yourself to risks like that” they said.
I didn’t listen to them. I listen to those who have done it before. They may have failed in the past, but they also overcame and succeeded.
You wouldn’t ask someone who plays football video games how to be a professional football player. So why worry about the voices who are on the sidelines of your business. Talk to people who are IN the game.
I also started an Entrepreneur Club with my buddy. We should have a few more participants at our next meeting. Surround yourself with focused, successful people from a varied background and learn what they know and share what you know.
Just smile and be polite to the naysayers. Armchair quarterbacking is easy, being a quarterback is hard.
Ka Ching: “You wouldn’t ask someone who plays football video games how to be a professional football player.”
PS – Success to you!
You know, Dan and LF community, this isn’t one of the two questions raised at the end of the post, but I think a dimension that needs to be explroed here is …. we can spend a lot of time / energy ignoring these “lazy” people but if we have hired them and are paying them, and if we have any commitment to professional development, we owe it to them to earth out this laziness and if it persists (and attempts to change it don’t work), consider if they are in the wrong place. (I realize this lazy dynamic often happens with someone who is not our direct report and actually may be senior to us – that presents a different set of problems!).
I know I mentioned the book “Immunity to Change” by Kegan and Lahey yesterday (it’s the Tallahassee Leadership Book Club selection for this month so it is very fresh in my mind) but it’s worth mentioning two days in a row. The authors say, “…leaders who ask themselves, “What can I do to make my setting the most fertile ground in the world for the growth of talent” put themselves in the best position to succeed.” Laziness doesn’t flourish in fertile ground (and note that “productive down time” in which people can think/dream/plan is different than laziness).
Love your point Paula about people we have hired and essentially made a commitment with/to.
“Listening to lazy people is like taking anchors into your soul and stuffing rocks in your pockets.”
This quote gave me a chuckle Dan. Both tactile and a great visual!
I have to agree with Dr. Asher about the negativity thing. It does seem to me that proverbial laziness tends to go along with a critical and sour grapes kind of attitude. Not that they are always paired together, but naysayers are usually the ones who won’t get their hands dirty, but are happy to “advise” anyway.
This week’s line of posts reminds me of William Shatner’s philosophical performance song “Has Been” (found on the album of the same name), which describes in a rather pointed and yet comedic way, the attitudes of armchair warriors who have never tried to do anything in life themselves. As one phrase goes: “Riding in their armchairs, they dream of wealth and fame. Fear is their companion; Nintendo is their game…”
Anyway, Shatner sums it up in a funny, yet philosophical way – better than I can. You can listen to it for free (legally) here: http://www.last.fm/music/William+Shatner/Has+Been/Has+Been.
Happy Wednesday everyone…
Come on guys, there is only one thing to do with a lazy person – FIRE THEM.
As a twice over cancer survivor, I equate a lazy person to a single cancer cell in your body. This is not a time to “plug ears and beat feet,” it is a time to cut out the cell before it metastasizes to others in the organization. And it will if you do not address it, because others are smart enough to see the lazy one get away with being lazy.
Do you have any cancer cells within your group? If you do, target them, hold them accountable for work goals, failing to deliver, show them the door.
If they are not producing, you need to reduce ’em.
I subscribe to the “addition by subtraction” method. A small hard working, dedicated group is much better than a larger lazy group that may have a few cancer cells.
Cut them out and keep the good ones even if you’re understaffed. It works everytime with positive results.
Dan, everyone I come in contact with every day gives me useful input. (even the lazy person). I would say, listen to them but do not let what they say suck you into their world. Some of the most creative accomplishments came BECAUSE someone said it couldn’t be done. The lazy person actually served as a catalyst.
“The lazy person actually served as a catalyst.”
That’s a really good point too!
I suppose you could say that a lazy person that’s trying to figure out the easiest way to get something done may be an innovator.
Thanks for joining in today.
I believe sometimes it’s quite healthy to be lazy, but it has to be the exception, not the standard. Being lazy for 30 minutes or so helps you de-stress, meditate a bit, reorganize your thoughts and find new strength to start afterward, with more motivation than ever, what do you think?
I see what you are saying about the benefits of destressing, finding new strength, etc. but I don’t see that as lazy.
I will say that externally it may look like the individual engaged in one or more of those acticities is lazy. But I think the contrary will be evident in the end as you see that individual actively engaged, completing other activities, and delivering results.
What a classic expression about lazy person. You are right. Lazy people have more suggestions, ideas, dreams but no action. They do not appreciate but find way to ciriticise it. Their inertia is bigger than any achievement or success by others.
Lazy person distracts and disturbs. If you continue to argue or convince them, you are holding yourself back. So, I try to un-listen them, un-suggest them and avoid them. If you allow them to discuss with you, there are more likely that you will get hurt.
Honest and courageous people give the most useful input and feedback. Fearless and selfless people give candid and useful insights. They trust eveyones and believe that everyone should be like them. Dishonest and greedy people give false and deceiving feedback because this is the way they can clear their way for success. The person who is only honest and not courageous also can not give useful feedback because he lacks passion. Courageious person always has passion. So, passion creates interest and honesty provide right direction. Therefore, I think a courageous honest person can provide right, useful and better information.
Thanks, Dan and the rest of the LF community, for continued great posts and feedback. I received some valuable advice from my boss years ago that basically said working hard isn’t what counts if you’re not actually accomplishing anything. I forget his exact words but that was the gist of it. It always serves as a reminder to me that busy-ness isn’t necessarily productive. In that way, perhaps unfocused, non-prioritized busy-ness isn’t that different from the laziness discussed here.
Lazy people are just unmotivated individuals, at one point I despised lazy people. As I matured I began to understand that not all lazy people are actually lazy. Many are individuals who are fearful of success or even change for that matter. In order for me to progress I have to put myself in an environment of positive, self sufficient, motivaters who are smarter than I am.
I will link back to Tom Gilbert and the things he said in his masterful work, “Human Competence.” Back around 1979, he took a really good look at human behavior in a variety of different frameworks.
Let me propose that your premise is mostly correct but also pretty wrong in a fundamental way.
Tom’s thought was on the issue of engineering human performance, and one of the things I remember discussing with him was his take on laziness as it relates to competence. It has been too many years and I may have that book around somewhere but what I recall is his belief that the BETTER WAYS OF DOING THINGS COME FROM THE LAZY BUT GOOD PERFORMERS.
The ideas for process improvement come from the thinking about saving time or making work easier. Hey, if I can find an easier way to do something, isn’t that somewhat anchored in “lazy?”
There is that book, “The Four-Hour Work Week.” Not read it (reading the 4-Hour Body right now by the same author) — same basic idea, though. Manage time and processes better and work less.
So, consider me lazy. I would rather SELL good training materials than DO good training.
My theme of a wooden wagon rolling on Square Wheels is that the Square Wheels DO work. The crew will meet its goals. And stopping the journey forward to make improvements may cause problems, just like the reality that training in most organizations is cut so people can be more productive (really?).
Yeah, it is the lazy among us that find Round Wheels to make things go more smoothly with less effort.
(Yeah, I know that this really depends on how one defines “lazy” but that is also my point in the above. Tom, I am sure, would agree with that if he were still around. (He was an extraordinary contributor to the ISPI group, BTW).)
Great post Dan. Never thought about lazy people having dreams and plans. Great insight on this post and wonderful topic.
When I first saw the title of this post, I was hesitant because I am a self proclaimed “lazy person” — meaning that I am always looking for a better and faster way to do more easier and in less time. However after reading the post, I see it is clarified more towards those who avoid action. I particularly got a chuckle out of the one comment about a response to suggestions, Yeah, but …” When I used to do group work, we had a phrase for this that we called “The Yea But Kid.” Usually, this comment meant they were avoiding something because of fear of change or the unknown. While they could be classified as lazy, it became more productive to understand what was underlining their avoidance of action. As an individual, I would definitely agree to not listen to lazy people as defined through your post. Nonetheless as a supervisor or leader, I would say it is important to listen and understand what the avoidance stems from and its impact on the team or group. In that way, you have an advantage to better leverage change and how to best empower the group as a whole.
I work with my best friend for 2 years now. We make same pay and every week we are both able to work 15hrs a week up to 50 hours a week. Well she lives at home and comes from a wealthy family and only works 15hrs a week for the past 2 years. I have a small little studio apt and am helping my parents out when I can cause they are going through hard time right now.
I have never made comment or even talked about how come she doesn’t have to work as much as me. I figured everyone is in different situations and I have to do my part. We hangout outside of work too. And lately she has been cut off from funds from family and when when I go out or buy something she is always saying (must be nice to have money) I promise I do not throw anything in her face, or think I am better, or even say anything to her about it.
But it hurts me when I have worked so hard to get where I am at and I even keep how far I have came along on the down low too. And she makes comments about that. Other than this work situation we have a great friendship for the past 15 years so what do you suggest me doing? 2 years ago I was poor and wasnt doing anything with my life and when I got this job I decided to work hard and turn it all around. It took me two years to get where I am at and I want to be able to enjoy it!!!! P.S, I even got my friend the job for her. Not that it matters but still……………
I feel your passion and suggest you don’t take it personally. Just say thanks or I’m thankful for the opportunity to work and earn money… then move on.
Best wishes, Dan
I get to work in group at every course at school. It is awful. During last 2 years I have changed groups I worked with generally every time I could. In every group I have been in (besides 1) there were 1-2 lazy people and 1-2 totally unmotivated people who didn’t do anything if not told exactly what to do..and not reminded 10 times about it. I have never been a group leader but in all groups (besides that one good group) I had to tell people what to do. I tried holding myself from it just to see where we will get but when deadline was getting closer and slappy work organizing was killing the group I always had to step in or..do most of the job. I am tried of the situation but in my school group work is graded for the whole work done, not personally. If I do my job but others won’t I will still not pass the course as it doesn’t matter who did it, it matters whats done. Teachers ofcourse say to whine to them if someone is lazy but nobody dares as it would open conflict in group and make it even harder do to the job. Even worse it is hard to show exactly why someone is lazy as you can’t point on organizational things as u don’t record group meetings. Then most of work is saved in the same file so ppl can say that they did this or that and it is hard to argue. I have noticed that I usually do between 1,5 – 3 times so much work than other ppl and yet get to organize job. Usual meeting with group looks like that: I come on time, 1-2 ppl come about time (5-15 min later) or in time, 1-2 ppl come 1 hour later. Then ppl start talking about every crap possible but not the job. When we finally get to work most of people sit silent (so its 2 ppl talking most of time), bring nothing to the topic or just do some part of job without checking if thats what we need, if thats the most important part etc. It all gets chaotic and ppl usually pick easiest things to do and complain if asked to do more. The only plus I get from the group work is that I get to learn a lot as I got to do most of the job or be prepared to fix for others. Then I get good grades at exams and they dont pass. Just it is not my “dream come true” to work from day to morning on group tasks instead of being able to read the course book or do anything else.
I don’t have problems with listening to lazy ppl as they are mostly too lazy to say anything. I always get exacuses “I forgot”, “I couldn’t I had to go to doctor” etc. Some ppl excuse themselves all the time and I heard a lot of ridiculous excuses. I have even been left out on the meetings we booked with teacher. It just sucks, I wish I could just smack those ppl in the face and leave.