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7 Phrases Abused By Bad Bosses (You Should Avoid Using Them)

7 Phrases Abused By Bad Bosses (You Should Avoid Using Them)

Being in a leadership position is hard work. You don’t want to be another buzzword-driven dictator, but you also don’t want to be seen as a pushover either. However, there’s nothing worse than opening yourself up as a phony and a fraud to your team. Doing so will only lead to disillusionment and distrust.

If you want to create a strong team of workers, ditch the cliches and forge your own path as a leader. Don’t ever be caught saying:

1. “It just wasn’t meant to be.”

Saying this is simply refusing to take or place blame for a team’s failures. Whatever was supposed to happen didn’t but it’s not because the stars didn’t align correctly. Somebody messed up. If it was you, admit it and work harder to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

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If it was an employee, privately discuss with them that they need to step it up, and provide them with ways to improve their performance. If it was the entire team, work with everyone individually and collectively in order to pinpoint exactly what went wrong, and how to avoid it next time.

2. “That’s probably not what you wanted to hear.”

As a boss, you can’t be wishy-washy about certain things. Regardless of the fact that you like an employee personally, you can’t let feelings interfere with business. It’s one of the hardest things about being a boss (if you’re not a sociopath, that is!). But by using this line, you show signs of weakness.

If you have to make a business move that might hurt someone, explain why you’re making the move. If they’re a team player, they’ll do what they have to do in order to keep the company moving forward. If they’re not willing to do so, you can’t be at fault for taking swift action.

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3. “Perception is reality.”

This is just fundamentally silly. So if I look like I’m working hard, that means I am? I imagine the sentiment behind this awful phrase is that you want your team to look presentable, and to create projects and presentations that really “wow” your customers or clients.

But truthfully, reality is reality. Positive results should always trump an over-the-top presentation. If you focus too much on appearance, all you have is fluff with no content.

4. “I’m always open to feedback”

Don’t ever say this if you don’t mean it. So many bosses say they’re open to feedback, but when it comes their way, they shut it down immediately.

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Furthermore, inviting feedback is not the same as saying you’re “open” to it. If you really do want feedback from your employees, ask them for it. A simple “What do you think?” goes a long way; it validates your employee, and will also allow you to get insight on your performance as a team leader.

5. “Failure is not an option.”

The idea behind such a blanket statement is to motivate your team to do its best. However, it’s entirely possible that you and your team will fail, regardless of the “mandate from above.”

If you’ve said that failing isn’t an option, and your team falls short of its goal, what will the other members think? How will you back up your words? Surely you won’t fire the whole group. If you want something done a specific way, make it clear to your staff why you want it done this way. Don’t just give a mandate; back it up with reasoning. If everything falls apart, refer back to the first section.

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6. “Let’s not try and reinvent the wheel.”

This is one of those statements that’s meant to alleviate some of your team’s hesitation to jump into a project for fear of failure. Really, what it translates to in an employee’s mind is “You don’t have to work that hard on this project.” But your team should always be striving to do its very best in everything it sets out to do.

Of course, you don’t really expect true innovation, creation, and “a-ha moments” around the clock, but you shouldn’t stifle your team’s productivity by making it seem like you don’t care much about the outcome.

7. “It is what it is.”

This one just gets my back up for so many reasons. Imagine Frederick Douglass or Martin Luther King, Jr. saying “It is what it is.” You can’t. Because they would never be so complacent. The only thing that’s absolutely certain in this world is death, and scientists are hard at work trying to thwart even that.

No policy or procedure is ever carved in stone. If something is holding you back, work to fix it. Don’t cop out and say “it is what it is.” That just makes you look weak in front of the team you’re supposed to be leading to success.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm9.staticflickr.com

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Last Updated on July 16, 2019

7 Powerful Habits To Win In Office Politics

7 Powerful Habits To Win In Office Politics

Office politics – a taboo word for some people. It’s a pervasive thing at the workplace.

In its simplest form, workplace politics is simply about the differences between people at work; differences in opinions, conflicts of interests are often manifested as office politics. It all goes down to human communications and relationships.

There is no need to be afraid of office politics. Top performers are those who have mastered the art of winning in office politics. Below are 7 good habits to help you win at the workplace:

1. Be Aware You Have a Choice

The most common reactions to politics at work are either fight or flight. It’s normal human reaction for survival in the wild, back in the prehistoric days when we were still hunter-gatherers.

Sure, the office is a modern jungle, but it takes more than just instinctive reactions to win in office politics. Instinctive fight reactions will only cause more resistance to whatever you are trying to achieve; while instinctive flight reactions only label you as a pushover that people can easily take for granted. Neither options are appealing for healthy career growth.

Winning requires you to consciously choose your reactions to the situation. Recognize that no matter how bad the circumstances, you have a choice in choosing how you feel and react. So how do you choose? This bring us to the next point…

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2. Know What You Are Trying to Achieve

When conflicts happen, it’s very easy to be sucked into tunnel-vision and focus on immediate differences. That’s a self-defeating approach. Chances are, you’ll only invite more resistance by focusing on differences in people’s positions or opinions.

The way to mitigate this without looking like you’re fighting to emerge as a winner in this conflict is to focus on the business objectives. In the light of what’s best for the business, discuss the pros and cons of each option. Eventually, everyone wants the business to be successful; if the business don’t win, then nobody in the organization wins.

It’s much easier for one to eat the humble pie and back off when they realize the chosen approach is best for the business.

By learning to steer the discussion in this direction, you will learn to disengage from petty differences and position yourself as someone who is interested in getting things done. Your boss will also come to appreciate you as someone who is mature, strategic and can be entrusted with bigger responsibilities.

3. Focus on Your Circle of Influence

At work, there are often issues which we have very little control over. It’s not uncommon to find corporate policies, client demands or boss mandates which affects your personal interests.

Gossiping and complaining are common responses to these events that we cannot control. But think about it, other than that short term emotional outlet, what tangible results do gossiping really accomplish? In most instances, none.

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Instead of feeling victimized and angry about the situation, focus on the things that you can do to influence the situation — your circle of influence. This is a very empowering technique to overcome the feeling of helplessness. It removes the victimized feeling and also allows others to see you as someone who knows how to operate within given constraints.

You may not be able to change or decide on the eventual outcome but, you can walk away knowing that you have done the best within the given circumstances.

Constraints are all around in the workplace; with this approach, your boss will also come to appreciate you as someone who is understanding and positive.

4. Don’t Take Sides

In office politics, it is possible to find yourself stuck in between two power figures who are at odds with each other. You find yourself being thrown around while they try to outwit each other and defend their own position; all at the expense of you getting the job done. You can’t get them to agree on a common decision for a project, and neither of them want to take ownership of issues; they’re too afraid they’ll get stabbed in the back for any mishaps.

In cases like this, focus on the business objectives and don’t take side with either of them – even if you like one better than the other. Place them on a common communication platform and ensure open communications among all parties, so that no one can claim “I didn’t say that”.

By not taking sides, you’ll help to direct conflict resolution in an objective manner. You’ll also build trust with both parties. That’ll help to keep the engagements constructive and focus on business objectives.

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5. Don’t Get Personal

In office politics, you’ll get angry with people. It happens. There will be times when you feel the urge to give that person a piece of your mind and teach him a lesson. Don’t.

People tend to remember moments when they were humiliated or insulted. Even if you win this argument and get to feel really good about it for now, you’ll pay the price later when you need help from this person. What goes around comes around, especially at the workplace.

To win in the office, you’ll want to build a network of allies which you can tap into. The last thing you want during a crisis or an opportunity is to have someone screw you up because they harbor ill-intentions towards you – all because you’d enjoyed a brief moment of emotional outburst at their expense.

Another reason to hold back your temper is your career advancement. Increasingly, organizations are using 360 degree reviews to promote someone. Even if you are a star performer, your boss will have to fight a political uphill battle if other managers or peers see you as someone who is difficult to work with. The last thing you’ll want is to make it difficult for your boss to champion you for a promotion.

6. Seek to Understand, Before Being Understood

The reason people feel unjustified is because they felt misunderstood. Instinctively, we are more interested in getting the others to understand us than to understand them first. Top people managers and business leaders have learned to suppress this urge.

Surprisingly, seeking to understand is a very disarming technique. Once the other party feels that you understand where he/she is coming from, they will feel less defensive and be open to understand you in return. This sets the stage for open communications to arrive at a solution that both parties can accept.

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Trying to arrive at a solution without first having this understanding is very difficult – there’s little trust and too much second-guessing.

7. Think Win-Win

As mentioned upfront, political conflicts happen because of conflicting interests. Perhaps due to our schooling, we are taught that to win, someone else needs to lose. Conversely, we are afraid to let someone else win, because it implies losing for us.

In business and work, that doesn’t have to be the case.

Learn to think in terms of “how can we both win out of this situation?” This requires that you first understand the other party’s perspective and what’s in it for him.

Next, understand what’s in it for you. Strive to seek out a resolution that is acceptable and beneficial to both parties. Doing this will ensure that everyone truly commit to the agreed resolution and will not pay only lip-service to it.

People simply don’t like to lose. You may get away with win-lose tactics once or twice but very soon, you’ll find yourself without allies in the workplace.

Thinking win-win is an enduring strategy that builds allies and help you win in the long term.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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