[Use with Caution] “Some of Us Were Talking…”


There are phrases that bring out smiles and there are strings of words that generate frowns.

Here’s one that can do both: “Some of us were talking…

Like other “traffic signal” words and phrases – things like “but” as in “You’ll like it but it might be bumpy” or “just” as in “He’s just another candidate” – these words or phrases are best used sparingly and with smart intent.

When I got the note that started with “Some of us were talking..” my impulse took me to that place of some other similar notes I’ve received throughout my life – most of them not-so-well.

The ones I best remember were mostly people advancing self-interest, as in “Some of us were talking and it seems like we should be at the front of the line” sort of thing. I link it with people who have the time to gossip, not necessarily a great or accurate association.

While this note actually had some useful ideas, it generated less initial discussion than it should have. I think it’s likely the way the idea got framed by the use of “Some of us were talking….

Hunch is that I’m not alone to reacting to that phrase in this regard and like the tips for “but” (use “and” instead) and “just” (avoid like the plague), you can be more impactful if you take credit / responsibility personally (“I thought about the issue and I have a take on it I want to share with you.“).

While there’s allegedly safety in numbers, there’s less credit and responsibility in anonymity.

Leaders who want to be impactful speak for themselves.

People who want to be less effective let others – as in “some of us” – speak for them.

Life Back West is an occasional set of writings focused on ways people, teams and organizations can be both more effective (doing the right thing) and more efficient (doing the right thing well). More about executive, career and team / leadership coaching services can be found at the “About J. Mike Smith and Back West, Inc.” sidebar or the “Hire Me” tab. You can also read an online interview with me at WhoHub.

Gossip. Photo credit: kamshots

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