How to Deal with Buffy Blasthole
Buffy Blasthole’s motto is Express Yourself. She runs around telling everyone what she thinks regardless of harm or turbulence.
Ms. Blasthole blows up relationships, derails meetings, and creates havoc because she disregards the power of words.
Skillful leaders respect the power of words. Incompetence has no filter.
Experienced leaders consider the impact and consequences of words. Egotistical leaders believe crafting a message to suit the audience or softening tone wastes time.
Buffy Blasthole makes self-affirming excuses and brags about speaking the truth.
- They’ll get over it.
- I’m trying to help.
- I’m just speaking the truth.
- They need to grow up.
- They’re too thin skinned.
Warren Bennis taught that Leadership is becoming yourself. That’s not permission to remove the filter from your mouth.
If you use the above excuses, it’s time to find a filter.
A filter for Buffy Blasthole:
#1. Embrace an honorable purpose for opening your mouth.
When Ms. Blasthole explains the reason she’s harsh, inconsiderate, or abrasive, say, “I’d like you to find a better approach.”
How might you achieve your goal and avoid unnecessary turbulence or resistance?
The only reason to open your mouth is to make something better. If things are worse when you’re done speaking, you failed.
Open your mouth to:
- Strengthen relationship.
- Energize team members.
- Maximize someone’s potential. (Including your own.)
- Improve performance, both yours and other’s.
- Find understanding.
- Remove barriers.
- Correct misunderstanding.
- Confront – with kindness – harmful behaviors.
- Find clarity.
- Provide useful information or insight.
- Ask a question.
- Express your heart.
#2. Develop emotional intelligence.
75% of careers are derailed for reasons related to emotional competencies. Ms. Blasthole doesn’t know the difference between kind candor and unnecessary offense.
Everyone eats the fruit of their words. If leadership is bitter, reflect on your words.
“Our words have wings, but fly not where we would.” George Eliot
How might leaders help Buffy Blasthole find a filter?
How might leaders become effective communicators?
How might leaders become effective communicators?
Information overload is common. Leaders need to ask themselves–what big idea and what supporting details does the person/group need to know?
There is a fine line between providing too much info and not enough info. Receiving too much info is confusing. Receiving too little information and you’re not sure what to do. Leaders need to put themselves in the shoes of the receiver and think about what you would want to know and need to know to perform at your best.
Too much expressing yourself —usually leads to clutter, confusion, and non-productive comments.
Leaders need focus and clarity.
Thanks Paul. I respect your insights. Finding balance is a challenge. Some leaders talk too much. Some leaders talk too little.
Perhaps giving people the essentials and then asking them, what else would you like to know is one way to find a bit of balance. (Just be sure to give the essentials because people may not know what they need to know.)
Excellent points. People may not know what they need to know.
Thank you for the advice to slow down and ask what else they need to know. I tend to deliver direction in the “Readers Digest” version. Short and sweet & sometimes TOO short. Thank you!!!
Hey Rich. So glad you found that useful. Sometimes a small thing can make a big difference.
I would agree with today’s topic. It takes a lot to listen to someone boast and not try to counter with your accomplishments. If I am not speaking to help or getting a better understanding, I am wasting everyone’s time.
Lee Phillips, Claims Supervisor II
Federated Insurance – Property & Casualty Claims
Thanks Lee. I find that trying to outdo or being defensive is a distraction for the higher purpose of communication. However, I’m with you, it takes a lot of grace to smile and acknowledge someone’s accomplishments without tooting my own horn a bit. 🙂
I thought the 12 reasons to open your mouth was really powerful and have put it on my wall as a constant reminder. My ability adhere to this guide we will avoid a boat load of pain and problems! Thanks!
Thanks Stephen. So glad you found this useful. You remind me that we can make life easier or more difficult by the words we use. We should also consider intent and tone when developing our skill at effective communication. I wish you well.
Dan, some days I think you have a portal into our office. As always, thanks for the great information and direction
Thanks T. That sounds creepy. 🙂
But if an issue is relevant it’s probably also common. Thanks for your note. Cheers.
Thanks, Dan. I know you might not want to post this as it adds politics to the conversation, but I’m genuinely seeking your thoughts on this matter. The profile of this “type” (blast-hole) immediately brings to mind the caliber of public discussion around everything of importance in my country right now.
How do you see this constant barrage of discourse affecting our journey as leadership educators and coaches? How might the current leadership style that has risen to the top with so much support from others be an indicator of systemic failure of leadership education in this country? Should we hand our heads in shame? Should we seek a whole new approach? Should we double-down on our current approaches? So many questions… would love to hear your thoughts.
Thanks Jackie. As you observe, I focus on leadership. One thing that comes to mind is leaders accept the current reality and move forward from there.
It seems obvious that venom and vitriol are not the path to success. In other words a noble goal calls for us to tread a noble path.
It takes little skill or intelligence to complain.
I’ve observed that current issues, like any other situations, are solved by practicing proven principles, not running around with your hair on fire. It’s been comforting to see that the principles of servant leadership work regardless of the situation.
Am I hanging my head? No. Do I like what’s going on? No. But everyday I work to make a small difference in the world.
Well stated, Dan (of course) 🙂 You really get to the core of things. That’s why I read your posts-even if I don’t reply often. ‘If you aren’t helping to make it right, stop complaining about what is wrong’. And I agree with “T”. You must have a magic mirror into our board room!
Trust me, you are doing yaht for sure, become more 1 day at a time.
Buffy Blasthole might very well be Bob Blasthole. These characteristics can be seen in all genders. I say that because some of these behaviors, while extreme, are sometimes excused for male leaders as, “He’s just that way, ” or “That’s just his style, but he gets things done.” I really liked the list of 12 reasons to open your mouth.
Thanks Tammy. So true. Yesterday it was Bobby Black-hole, today is Buffy Blasthole, tomorrow is Tommy Touchhole. 🙂
I plan to spread the joy equally between male and female. But as you indicate, it’s not really gender specific.
As a senior executive, I worked alongside a Ms Blasthole – she could not be changed no matter the approach. She did not want to be changed. It was her way or the highway. There comes a time where you must remove yourself from a toxic environment and people like her at the risk of what it does to your own mental health. To this day I still cringe at what came out of her mouth and the way she treated the people on her team. The hiring of her personality could have been avoided during the recruitment process. This is what corporations need to get right. Some people are so broken in themselves you can’t put them back together. It is best to avoid hiring them in the first place.
Thanks Carolyn. I know you believe in the potential of people. I respect your insight and I think it’s true. There are some asses in the world who enjoy being asses. The best thing to do is kick them out or, as you indicate, run for your life.
My heart hurts for people who NEED a job and have to suffer people like Buffy Blasthole.
Covid has provided far too many moments of ugly dialog, and these thoughts are a great way to ground my thinking & come back to truth, not venom. Thanks, Dan.” The only reason to open your mouth is to make something better. If things are worse when you’re done speaking, you failed.” I really want to focus more on what I can learn by listening, and the additional context of adding more value when I speak is a good pause for me to do a quick reflection on whether the moment is full just by listening.
Thanks Lloyd. Your comment touches my heart because it feels honest, vulnerable, and forward facing. One of the great battles of leadership is navigating our communication style and habits.
Good point, Lloyd. “The only reason to open your mouth is to make something better.” Good leaders listen in addition to speaking with wisdom. I worked with a “Bob Blasthole” who turned weekly project updates that should have taken no more than an hour into three-hour marathons of blaming, shaming and endless commentary. On a positive note, I also worked for a brilliant creative director who limited weekly updates to only pertinent information, listened attentively and gave kudos to outstanding work.