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Destructive Language Decimates Trust

Leadership language choices in difficult situations are often early indicators of the dysfunctional nature of leadership. In fact, their behaviors and language choices are often diagnostic of this dysfunction. Here are some examples to watch for:

“Dysfunction Junction” by Nick Harris, flickr, creative commons license

  • Denial
  • Defensiveness
  • Deflection
  • Denigration
  • Disrespect
  • Demeaning
  • Discrediting
  • Distain

Not only do these behaviors, attitudes, and language choices destroy trust, they create victims, critics and angry people, families and organizations.

These negative examples are enormously time wasting, often trigger similar even more emotionally negative responses in return, foster contentiousness, confrontation, contempt, confusion and consternation. These behavior choices are unlikely ingredients for building trust.

By James E. Lukaszewski, America’s Crisis Guru ®


James E. Lukaszewski, ABC, Fellow IABC, APR, Fellow PRSA (loo-ka-SHEV-skee) is widely known as America’s Crisis Guru®. He is a speaker, author, lecturer and ethicist. His latest book is Lukaszewski on Crisis Communication, What Your CEO Needs to Know About Reputation Risk and Crisis Management, available now at Amazon.com.

His biography is listed in 30 editions of various Marquis Who’s Who in America (including the 2014, 68th edition), The World (including 2014, 31st edition), Finance and Government. His name was listed in Corporate Legal Times as one of “28 Experts to Call When All Hell Breaks Loose,” and in PR Week as one of 22 “crunch-time counselors who should be on the speed dial in a crisis.” In 2013 and 2014, he was named one of the “Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior” by Trust Across America.


James E. Lukaszewski, ABC, Fellow IABC; APR, Fellow PRSA, BEPS Emeritus


If you have questions, or would like to dive more deeply into the subject of this blog, you can reach me 24/7 at jel@e911.com; 203-948-7029 (voicemail, email, text). I look forward, as a friend and colleague, to helping you achieve the objectives you’ve set for yourself for having a happier, more influential, successful and meaningful career.

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