I see them talked about and written about in print and online all the time.  BOLD, PROUD, DECLARATIONS

Demanding“Planning NEVER works for me.  I ALWAYS work best under pressure.”

“I ALWAYS give out business cards to everyone I meet.  You never know who might need me.”

“You NEVER listen to me.”

“That linebacker is ALWAYS missing the tackle.”

“You ALWAYS leave the lid up.”

You get the idea.

Now, here is what I find interesting about this type of thinking (side note… it does not mean I am right, just what I think is interesting):

1) When it is someone talking about themselves, they often (notice I did not say “always”) appear to be trying to force structure on things that are, honestly, not naturally that structured.  

2) When talking about others, the absolute is rarely accurate.  “ALWAYS” and”NEVER” are rarely used correctly.  They are accurate words, just often misused and for exaggerations that may not really be useful to the context.  “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a million times.  Don’t exaggerate!”

3) The speaker of “absolutes” often ignores the response to these absolutes. While some people will conform to the forced structure or declarations, many people will flee this behaviour (and do so quickly).  Granted, in life and in business, there are some people that we prefer flee.  But are you sure the ones fleeing you are the right ones?

4) Being “right” appears to be very important in the discussion for the speaker.  Even more important than being helpful, successful or, in extreme cases, polite.

Naturally, there are absolutes that are critical in life and business.  For instance, I believe we should all strive to ALWAYS treat others as we would like to be treated.

At the same time, I am working very hard to be sure that I understand that communication and business rules are best considered as only guidelines.  We should apply them only as appropriate to all of the others we interact with each day.  Not a set of rules that can never be flexed.  I hope I do this well more days than not.

The business world is very dynamic.  People are very dynamic. Communication is dynamic.

Be sure your approach to all has structure but remains dynamic enough to be the best it can beAbsolutely.


Glenn S. Phillips is the author of Nerd-to-English: Your Everyday Guide to Translating Your Business, Your Messages, and Yourself. His website, www.nerdtoenglish.com, will lead you to more information about effective communication training, risk assessments and genuinely helpful tips. You can email Glenn directly atglennsphillips@nerdtoenglish.com.

© 2012 All Rights Reserved.  Glenn S. Phillips and Forte’ Incorporated. (205) 985-1111



About the Author

Glenn S. Phillips works with leaders who want to leverage technology and understand risks within. An author and blogger, Glenn is often quoted in national media, plays a really ugly tuba (it even has a bullet hole) and is a fan of dark chocolate and great puns.