Wednesday Smart Shibboleth #4: Destructive Language Decimates Trust

Word Count: 170 words (~ 1 minute, 5 seconds reading time)

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:

  1. Denial
  2. Defensiveness
  3. Deflection
  4. Denigration
  5. Disrespect
  6. Demeaning
  7. Discrediting
  8. Disdain

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

These negative examples waste time, often trigger similar even more emotionally negative responses in return, foster contentiousness, confrontation, contempt, confusion, and consternation. These behavior choices are likely to require strong, positive, remedial behaviors.

Watch for the Shibboleth on reputation and trust recovery following a crisis.

James E. Lukaszewski

Americas Crisis Guru®
ABC, Fellow IABC; APR, Fellow PRSA; PRSA BEPS Emeritus 2015

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** “To the extent that any single [leadership] quality determines success, that quality is adaptive capacity.” - Warren Bennis and Robert Thomas, “Geeks and Geezers: How Era, Values and Defining Moments Shape Leaders”, 2008, Harvard Business School Press, page 91