Chop away negative talk

Lashing out can leave lasting scars

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Smart managers keep their negative talk to a minimum. They resist making snide comments just to fill silence, and they prefer to laugh at themselves gently rather than poke “fun” at coworkers in a biting tone.

Even if you don’t intend to make stinging remarks, your cynical cracks can work against you. Here are some of the subtle forms of negative expression that can undermine your credibility:

Name calling. How many times a day do you label someone “an idiot” or “a jerk”? You may be surprised how often you rail against customers (“They’re so annoying”), competitors (“They’re so slimy”) or your senior management (“Those dimwits are totally out of touch”). Regardless of where you direct your insults, you may alienate others who do not want to join you in slinging the mud.

Cynical asides. There are dozens of safe ways to make others laugh. But some people use sarcasm as their preferred mode of “humorous” expression. Comments such as “I see you’re on the ball again today” or “You’ve really got that job down pat” may seem funny to the speaker when they see someone commit an embarrassing blunder. But others may greet such remarks with stony silence. Cynicism won’t help you boost others’ attitudes; instead, it will dampen their spirits and make them less apt to confide in you.

Complaining. Individuals who repeatedly say, “I’m sick of...” or “I hate this job...” box themselves into a corner. They bore others and drive away potential allies with their constant whining. If you choose to volunteer your opinions, focus on positive ones. When you’re irritated by something, don’t feel compelled to talk about it.

As a rule, avoid injecting negative observations or complaints into a conversation. The next time you’re tempted to do so, ask yourself, “What’s to gain?” That should help you keep quiet.

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