Wisdom from Manager Tools: “Have Nothing Bad to Say”

Recorded on September 10th, 2016

Right before this week started, I listened to an episode of Manager Tools called “Politics: Have Nothing Bad to Say”. The idea is that when you are asked to share some inside knowledge you have about a difficult situation in your team, a meeting that went south, a tense moment between co-workers, or just plain gossip, that you opt out. This is going to happen to you often, probably at least once a week. If you pass up the opportunity to spread negative news about others, you in effect improve the environment all around you.

It can be so tempting to dish about someone and point out failures. I’ve certainly done it many times. And sadly, exchanging those juicy nuggets can bring people closer together in a twisted way, but that’s not a strong foundation to build on. If you can manage to short-circuit that whole process, at least as far as your involvement goes, you elevate yourself one conversation at a time. All you have to say is, “Man, I’ve got nothing bad to say about her/him”. Mark and Mike give some other great examples of Jedi mind trick kinds of phrases you can use to shut down those queries. The more you do this, the more people will un-associate you with gossip, and the better your word will be. You won’t need to worry that something that you told someone “in confidence” will get spread around and morphed into something worse than what you actually said.

This week at work, I really, really tried to live this, and I think I succeeded. Not that I’m a pillar of morality, but I just chose not to add to the fray when things went in that direction. There will definitely be more chances to practice this in the future.

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