It Sounded Smart in Your Head and Dumb When You Said It

Comedians say dumb things intentionally. The rest of us have learned that a ‘foot in the mouth’ leaves a bad taste.

The dumb thing you said seemed smart in your head.

“If Lincoln were alive today, he’d be turning over in his grave.” Gerald R. Ford

Success includes what you DON’T say.

14 dumb things successful leaders DON’T say:

  1. “I meant well.” Does this mean there are times you didn’t mean well?
  2. “I didn’t mean to.” What’s the option? I meant to screw up!?
  3. “I’ll do it myself.” Leaders enable others.
  4. “Oh! That’s easy.” What’s easy for you is difficult for another.
  5. “I’m the boss.” You aren’t the boss if you have to say you’re the boss.
  6. “That doesn’t matter.
  7. “Do it my way.”
  8. “No one appreciates all I do around here.”
  9. “We tried that. It won’t work.”
  10. “You can always do more.”
  11. “I knew that.”
  12. “That’s dumb.” Yes, it’s usually dumb to say, “That’s dumb.”
  13. “Do better.” What the heck is better?
  14. “I don’t care what you think.”

Sincerity doesn’t erase dumb.

4 ways to say fewer dumb things:

#1. Talk through your ideas with a trusted colleague in private.

The person who talks the most learns the most.

Yes, listening is a foundation to learning. Listen to yourself while you talk with a trusted friend.

You’ve said something to a friend and thought, “Gee, that was dumb.” Better to be dumb with a friend than in public.

#2. Stay connected.

  1. Distance makes you dumb.
  2. Distance gives the illusion of knowing.
  3. Get out of your office.

#3. Practice dumb in small ways.

Lean into confusion when projects are young, not after they’re mature. Delay exacerbates dumb.

You look dumb when you pretend to know.

#4. Talk with people who actually do the work and buy the product.

What dumb things have you heard leaders say?

How might leaders say fewer dumb things?