July 8, 2010 Management

It’s not what you say, but how you say it.

In the last two years I bet you have heard a manager (maybe yours) or another organizational leader make the statement, “You should feel lucky you have a Job”, especially in group meetings when an employee or group of employees is criticizing or protesting against a company change or event.  Maybe you’ve said it yourself out of frustration.  And although I believe that we all should be grateful when we have a good job and opportunities to grow in what we do every day.  This statement sends a very demeaning message to all who are present.  Instead of dealing with an employee concern a leader ignores the issue and extinguishes any remaining discussion by making a negative statement.

Unfortunately, some in leadership positions have never really been trained in dealing with the people side of the business, which is the most challenging I might add.  It’s much easier to avoid the issues and this example is a perfect avoidance technique.

What if the manager said something like:

You Know, I see your point, during these tough times we have to do things a little different and sometimes the logic isn’t clear to us.  I certainly feel good that I still have an opportunity to be employed and voice my opinion about work changes.  Let me get a little more background on this specific change so that I can better explain the reasoning behind it and we can explore how to make it work for us. 


You know times are tough right now and our company is doing everything possible to maintain a solid foundation for all of us.  That means we may have to do things differently from time to time.  If you have a specific idea or suggestion that may help us deal with this change lets discuss it after the meeting.

I guess this also goes back to “it’s not what you say, but how you say it”.

So the next time you have a meeting and someone challenges a change or brings up an issue, there are other ways to keep your meeting focused and still demonstrate respect for the person who was brave enough to voice an opinion.