Monday, May 26, 2008

"Everybody Thinks" is a useless phrase

The most common useless phrases all start with something like, "everyone thinks..." or "i know a lot of people who say..." or "a bunch of people are..."

In the church, or in the office, or the school, or within the political party, or or any other place you can imagine both physical and virtual these phrases are completely unhelpful and often toxic.

I can almost guarantee you that the person(s) using these phrases is wrong. They haven't taken the time to get a lot of feedback or specific input. They haven't asked important questions. They often don't even care about logic. They're being driven by emotion, responding to their small circle of friends and trying to sound knowledgeable by making absolute statements.

Don't fall for it. Don't lead or manage that way. Help your people move past the fear of what "everyone thinks" and get to the heart of the issue.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button


Lori G said...


I wish more people would realize this and stop doing it.

Sometimes I think this is done in an effort to protect sources. What isn't realized is that those 'sources' have no power when they're un-named ghosts and if you keep talking that way you start to lose credibility.

I would go out on a limb and almost guarantee that 'everyone' or 'a lot of people' is probably about three to five people who agree with the person and who are complaining but not going directly to the source.

Using unnamed sources or "everyone's saying" starts to feel manipulative, even when it might not be intended that way.

Can ya tell I've been there? It's a tough one to deal with but it gets easier.

So, how do you deal with it?

shawnmcq said...

I think the best way to deal with it is to seriously question who is doing the talking. If someone tends to make huge generalizations, simply say, "Everybody? Come know that is simply not true". I think it would prevent a lot of communication problems if we were more precise in our wording. Well, that is my input.
BTW..I went to see the new Indiana Jones movie and everybody loved it! It was so crowded, being Memorial day. Everyone in the world was there! The lines at the snack bar were insane. Everyone had to get popcorn before the movie. You know, everyone says that I should have avoided the crowd and waited until the DVD comes out. After the movie, we went out for dinner to the Cheesecake Factory. Everyone say's it is really good so we just had to go. When we got home, there were 10 million messages on our voicemail. Everyone in the world tried to call. Then we relaxed with a little tv and watched "Everybody Loves Raymond".

Jonathan Foster said...

how do i deal with it?

good question. this is hard. i've learned to respond something like, "tell me exactly how many people you know for sure are thinking or saying these things."

and you're right, if they're honest, it's almost always 3-5 people. so then you just make the comparison between 3-5 people and all the other people they're not aware of. it's crazy really. but that's what people do. and yes, they lose credibility when it happens a lot.

the harder part is taking the time then to help that person see how destructive this kind of talking can be. so, that's where the whole 'love' and 'truth' thing comes in. as leaders, we have to have copious amounts of both... like Jesus... good luck on that.