Behavior-based language primer for managers: Avoid using value judgments

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If you manage people, an important skill to have is the ability to consciously use of behavior-based language.  This is also known as performance-based language.

This is the second of a series of posts providing tips on how to increase use behavior-based language.  In the first post, I described how generalizations, in an effort to be efficient, tend to undermine the intent of changing the employee’s behaviors.  A similar mistake that managers tend to make is using value judgments.  Using value judgments is an effort to summarize the net impression that an employee is making, but the problem is that this summary completely clouds the behaviors that the employee is doing.   Instead, if the value judgment is a negative one, it comes across as a personal attack to the employee.  That’s because it is, in essence, a personal attack on an employee.

Here are some examples of value judgments a manager may make in regards to an employee:

You’re stupid

You’re not good enough

You don’t have what it takes

Your heart’s not into it

You’re not cutting it

You’re too wordy

Your work is shoddy

You’re magic!

You’re brilliant!

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