Be Direct.

Be Direct

One of the big problems people often have with offices is “office speak”. If people hear someone using euphemisms they don’t understand (a classic cliché being “Let’s put it up the flag pole and see who salutes” or “singing from the same hymn sheet”). What people want is clear instructions that they can understand and as a leader it is your responsibility to make sure people know that.

Talk about the matter at hand

One problem people have in life as well as in work is that they may talk about the other person rather than what they need to do. In business terms try not to say “You need to do this”.

It is better to say “You need to do this because we have this particular goal that we need to achieve and if you do this then we will be able to achieve it.”

The trick is to do so in a way that has conviction- people often focus as much (if not more) on the way something is being said as the actual content of the message someone is giving them.

Don’t say I’m sorry

In politics they say “Never apologise, never explain”. While this is not quite true in business (it helps to explain a bit) avoid prefacing any instructions with “I’m sorry but” as it negates what you say. In order to make a statement positive just state it!

Acknowledge disagreement

Inevitably there will be some negative feedback and some people may feel the need to call you on what you have to say. The best way to deal with this is to maintain a polite but firm approach, acknowledging what someone has to say but then giving them a clear counter argument and then move on.


As with “I’m sorry but” you should remove “With all due respect” from your mental dictionary. The phrase often puts people on the defensive as it can come off as a bit patronising and this may mean whoever you are talking to becomes harder to communicate with as they feel (rightly or wrongly) that you are looking down on them.

Authenticity is key

If you try to act tough but don’t want to follow through people will see that. Empty threats with no follow through will result in a team not respecting you. Equally it is important not to be a pushover either and you need to maintain self-confidence.

Authenticity is about giving a message that you believe in and doing so with a passion that comes from you. If you want to be a leader it is not about giving orders or getting people to like you but getting a team together to achieve a common goal. If you can create that with your team then you have an opportunity to achieve great things but it has to come from you and your own self-belief rather than trying to create a front that you want people to like/be afraid of. In short tell people what you believe in and in a confident way and it is likely they will want to follow!