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:
- “I meant well.” Does this mean there are times you didn’t mean well?
- “I didn’t mean to.” What’s the option? I meant to screw up!?
- “I’ll do it myself.” Leaders enable others.
- “Oh! That’s easy.” What’s easy for you is difficult for another.
- “I’m the boss.” You aren’t the boss if you have to say you’re the boss.
- “That doesn’t matter.
- “Do it my way.”
- “No one appreciates all I do around here.”
- “We tried that. It won’t work.”
- “You can always do more.”
- “I knew that.”
- “That’s dumb.” Yes, it’s usually dumb to say, “That’s dumb.”
- “Do better.” What the heck is better?
- “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.
- Distance makes you dumb.
- Distance gives the illusion of knowing.
- 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?
Use OTHER people’s dumb quotes! Let others anchor the reality you want to anchor. (Note to Dan – my response has layers. (grin) )
The GOOD news is that most dumb things are forgotten. With social media and people like George Bush, Sarah Palin and Michele Bachman, there are always dumb things you can find. And it seems you can say pretty much anything these days, with no real accountability… My facebook feed is simply full of stuff…
The GOOD part of saying dumb things is that at least one would seem to be talking to others. The data are pretty horrific when it comes to workplace communications.
DO have FUN out there!
As pastor Craig Groeschel says, “Leaders don’t say our people won’t, leaders say I haven’t led them to.”
Extreme ownership by Jocko Willink is a great book on this. As a leader, it is your fault. Own it, and do whatever necessary to fix it.
Great post once again, Dan!
I was told “It doesn’t matter if I am right or wrong, I’m the boss” I don’t work there anymore. I also was told by my “boss” “Don’t space your letters out so far when you write” and “Here, form your a’s like this” How he got to be a director i’ll never know. I left after I found out he was calling me the “color fairy” in conversations with everybody but me, I found this out when co workers addressed me that way and I asked where it was coming from.
“Get out of your office” This has always made me a lot smarter. Just when I think I am too busy to get out of the office, I realize that getting out of the office will probably save me time down the road.
“I’m so busy” is on that comes across as “what I do is more important that what you do” or means the other person isn’t busy. I caught myself doing that previously and now I try to stop and think about what I’m trying to say to the person I was going to say that to. It could be a time to say no and share the need to focus on other strategic priorities that are mission critical or find out if the other person could meet up at another time when my focus would be on what ever they need to share, discuss, etc.
I like your idea of talking things through with a trusted colleague, Dan. I’d add to pause before responded to ensure you’ve thought something through and to have an awareness of any stress or emotions that you may be working through at the moment.
Dumb things leaders say” what do you mean you don’t know”.
Leaders may say less dumb things by being less critical and judgemental when listening to others.