Phrases That Will Get You Fired, Maybe, It All Depends

Robert Pagliarini, the founder of Richer Life, wrote on CBS Money Watch blog a post called 5 phrases that will get you fired. My reaction, as an HR person, is “Maybe, It all depends.” Here are Pagliarini’s five phrases:

  • There is nothing I can do.
  • It’s not fair.
  • That’s impossible.
  • I wish.
  • But we have always done it that way.

Pagliarini uses some pretty strong language in analyzing these five phrases. As an example his says the first phrase “There is nothing I can do” is an indication that you are lazy and a liar. Really? He says there is always something else you can do. Really? Would I prefer to have someone come to me and say “I have tried this, and this, and this, but none of that worked so the only thing left to do was…”
It’s not fair. In HR we have all heard that at some time. The standard response we have all heard/given is “life is not fair.” (We tell that to our children all the time, at least we used to.) This can get you fired if you are whining about something trivial, but what about situations of genuine  discrimination?
That’s Impossible. He says this distinguishes the employee that makes things happen from the employee that lets things happen. I think that all depends on what is being asked about. I cannot make people smarter. IQ is considered pretty much a given. But I can make them better educated. Just not at this instant… that’s impossible.
But we have always done it that way. Ok, I admit this one drives me up the wall. My response is “SO?” But am I going to fire someone for that? Perhaps, if that is the 20th time they have told me that, but the first couple of times I will make an effort to educate them on the value of thinking of other ways of doing things and then trying them.
I really suggest you read his article, which you can get HERE, and form your own opinion. I also suggest you read the long list of comments. Some of them are very, very good. You will start to notice the different leadership/management philosophical biases that people have. Some ascribe to a Hersey-Blanchard model where managers should change their style to match the maturity of the employee (sort of what I used for my explanations above) versus a Fiedler model where it is suggested the manager doesn’t change their style but works to change the situation. This in contrast to Pagliarini’s style of “my way or the highway.”
Any way check it out and give me your reaction. Is he correct?

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