Leaders communicate, the lazy dismiss.

Have you ever had someone say to you “well at least you’ve learnt what not to do”?

How did that make you feel? I personally can’t stand it when people say this too me; especially when they say it in such a way they truely believe they are a god reincarnated full of wisdom.

First of all the word “well”.

If you are from Southern USA or Texas I will forgive you for starting a sentence with ‘well’ because it is a cultural form of taking pause before you make a markedly strong point. If you are not of southern dialect and following the word ‘well with ‘at least’ than you have no excuse to use this phrase.

‘Well at least’ is a scrape of the sympathy barrel that really serves no one except you. Seriously, it’s a desperate expression that obviously shows you have no ability to handle the information just shared with you.

I know, some of you are sitting there saying but i’m finding some positivity in a bad situation

Well….positivity was once described to me as being like sweet icing around a pile of dog poo. On the outside, it’s smells nice and it even looks real pretty. Than you take a bite and it all just tastes like shit. 

Now for those of you who actually say “well at least you’ve learnt what not to do” please pay attention. 

Whenever someone says that to me I ask them “i bet all the boys and girls beaten up by catholic priests wish they’d never been beaten up. I bet they don’t thank you for the wisdom to have learnt what not to do to other kids. No one deserves to have a lesson through the justification of victimhood. Unless they are the perpetrator and that’s a whole other world of intellectual philosophy we don’t have time for. Yes, i’m using a dramatic example for dramatic shift in your thinking.

My point is that when you say such a statement as “well, at least you’ve learnt what not to do” your making excuses for the perpetrator and not leading the situation to a resolution. You have dismissed the victims experience and dismissed the opportunity to lead a prevention of it happening again. Yeah, you mr & mrs supposed leader!

As a leader you have an accountability to mitigate harm and to ‘lead’ your people to better outcomes. This starts with good communication, not dismissive communication. So what is ‘good’ communication. Well….it’s really quite a simple start;

  1. acknowledge the situation

  2. listen to what happened AND the impact

  3. lead a resolution

So for a short example;

  1. acknowledge the situation - this is a difficult situation 

  2. listen to what happened & the impact - what happened was “the pen dropped” and the impact is “i’m bind in my left eye”

  3. lead a resolution;


  1. either by asking them to take action - take the pen out of your eye.  
  2. you organise a mitigation - mark will take bob aside and address the impact until they come up with a resolution

  3. you intervene - lets clean up your eye.

OK, a somewhat comical situation but do think about the previous alternative “well, at least you’ve learnt not what to do”. It doesn’t mitigate the danger, prevent a repeat nor heal the persons eye. 


Dealing with difficult isn’t always easy. 

Not dealing with difficult is initially easy. Unfortunately for every small issue in your team that you sweep into the ‘at least’ closet you create a burden of the unresolved. Over time, inside that closet of unresolved explodes back at you.

Well….that be all for this evening folks.

Stephanie Bysouth