I’m going to ask for your forgiveness right away, because this content is kind of selfish. One of the things I learned as a presenter is to always serve the audience. I’ve learned that I need to work very hard to meet the audience’s needs because it’s not about me. As an educator, it’s never about me. It’s always about you, the end user. It’s always about serving others so that they can go back to their job and really make an impact.
But here’s something else I learned: I learn deeply when I’m educating others. If you want to learn how to run a code, you better become an ACLS instructor. If you want to learn EKGs at a high level, you need to learn to teach EKGs. That’s exactly what happened for me.
Today, I want to talk about three phrases that are toxic – toxic to your own personality and toxic to those you’re communicating with. I’m not convinced I’m doing this to help you. I’m doing it to help myself, and in doing so, hope to help you as well. I’m teaching this information today, because I want to internalize it. I want to internalize these phrases so that I know not to apply them in my life.
The first phrase is “good job.” Have you watched the movie Whiplash? Whiplash is a drumming movie; if you’ve never seen it, you may not know how intense a drumming movie can be. It was kind of like Saving Private Ryan. It was the most intense non-war movie I have ever seen. The movie was about a young, prestigious drummer. He was going places. He was on the cusp of being great.
This drummer had an educator who was ridiculously hard on him, who kept pushing him beyond the limit any person should be pushed. At one point, this teacher explained to the drummer that if he, the teacher, had said “good job” to the drummer, the drummer would have stopped working. “Good job” kills human potential. We have to remember this when we think we’re doing “good.” We need to work toward great.
There’s a book by Jim Collins called Good to Great. It’s kind of the Dubin of business. If you run a business, you need to read this book. One of the things Collins says is that there are so few great businesses because there are so many good businesses. Once you’re good, you get complacent.
I had a drill instructor in boot camp named Sergeant Bates. He was a nasty guy. He ended up getting kicked out of our platoon because he was so hard on us. However, he had a tattoo on his arm that said, “Against the Wind.” I didn’t know what it meant until the end of boot camp. It was about training Marines. They rise higher against the wind. That’s why he was so hard on us.
Where in your life are you saying, “Good job?” “Good job” can kill you. Think about where you could be in your life if you doubled down and went for great, or fantastic, or the best in the world.
The second phrase is, “You’re right.” This phrase came from a book called Never Split the Difference by a guy named Chris Voss. Voss was a lead FBI hostage negotiator. He says that you never split the difference when you’re negotiating with a person’s life on the line because you can’t.
One of the things Voss found was that if he was negotiating with the person who captured the hostage, and he tried to negotiate from his own perspective, the kidnappers would respond with “You’re right.” If the person you’re speaking to says, “You’re right,” you’re too busy speaking from your own agenda.
You have to drop your bag – your biases, agendas and goals. Voss says that the person you’re negotiating with needs to say, “That’s right.” If you can explain things from an empathetic perspective and understand the other person’s point of view and their needs to the point that they respond with, “That’s right,” you win the negotiation.
If you’re going to your boss for a raise, no one cares what you want. That’s a big part of Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People, which I’m a huge fan of. I’m such a fan that I recently purchased Dale Carnegie’s Southwest Florida franchise. I really want to learn his content. We have to speak from others’ perspective so that they say, “That’s right,” not “You’re right.” “You’re right” kills negotiation; it kills someone’s will to want to find a synergistic response.
The last phrase that kills is, “I know.” I might say, “I know,” when there’s a lot I don’t know. “I know” slams the door on learning. People who viscerally use the phrase, “Oh, I know that” – it’s a lack of humility. You’re not keeping your mind open to learning. Boy, that drives me crazy. The philosopher Herbert Spencer said about people who think they have the answers to everything, “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments, and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance—that principle is contempt prior to investigation.”
Contempt is anger and disgust. Anger and disgust before you even look at something. If you live in a space where you embrace contempt prior to investigation, good luck to you. You’re going to be ignorant, a fool. I say that with humility because I think I was that kind of guy – and maybe I still am in certain areas of my life. I have to work at it.
Of these three toxic phrases, the one I’m going to avoid especially is “good job.” I’m going to work toward a fantastic job. I’m going to push people to their full potential when I teach. “Good job” stops people from reaching that potential. I don’t want you to be good. I want you to be great.
I’m also going to speak to your needs, not my needs, so you can respond to me with, “That’s right” instead of, “You’re right.” If I go on to explain the global situation, someone responds, “That’s right, that’s fantastic.” And in my head, I respond with, “I know.” But my mind needs to counter that, and I need to ask myself, “What don’t I know?”
I hope this helped you in the same ways it’s helping me.