Boss’s Tip of the Week: The No Adjectives Rule

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When it’s time to talk to a team member about performance or behavior, you’ll get better results if you do it without the adjectives. Your job is to describe the performance or behavior and their results so you and the team member can have a conversation about how things will change. When you use adjectives, you create problems and put roadblocks in the way of productive conversation.

First, you introduce judgment where there should only be description. A clear, objective description of behavior or performance paves the way for conversation. Adjectives are judgment words and they trigger emotional responses and defense, instead of listening and evaluating. And, because most adjectives are imprecise (“good” or “awful”) you’re setting yourself up for an argument.

Describe behavior in observable, objective language. That means no adjectives.

This is only one of 347 tips in my ebook, Become a Better Boss One Tip at a Time.

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