Berger Leadership Blog

Sep 01, 2017

If you are a leader, don't say these 19 things

Negative talk

When you are a leader, people pay attention to what you have to say - which can be good or bad.

We want to motivate our employees and build them up. But there are some statements -“ some that simply roll off the tongue - that can upset our employees and shouldn't be said at all.

Jeff Haden, contributing editor to, recently put together a great list of 19 statements to avoid. They include:

- "This is probably not what you want to hear." Don't shift the issue onto someone else.

- "Work smarter, not harder." Haden sums up the thoughts of someone on the receiving end of this statement very well: "One: You imply I'm stupid. Two: You imply whatever I'm doing should take a lot less time and effort than it has been taking. And three: After you say it, I'm kinda pissed off."

- "There is no 'I' in 'team.' " Remember, it is individuals that make up a team.

- "I guess it just wasn't meant to be." Take responsibility and figure out what went wrong.

- "Feel free to give me feedback." Ask people directly for feedback instead.

- "Failure is not an option." Failing is always a possibility.

- "We don't need to reinvent the wheel." This statement is OK, says Haden, as long as it isn't used to shut down new ideas.

I encourage you to read his whole list. As leaders, people watch what we do, but equally important are the words we say. Any other statements you think should be avoided?

Follow me on Twitter (@BDanBerger).