Dangerous Words

The Two Most Dangerous Words in the English Language


Good Job.

Or so claims the tyrannical orchestra conductor played by J.K. Simmons in last year’s critically acclaimed movie, Whiplash.

Encouragement that isn’t genuine is damaging to both giver and receiver.  The receiver gets at best, a false sense of accomplishment, and at worst, the sting of being patronized.

And the giver? They exchange candor for cowardice, eroding their own credibility.

So what are we to do?  Throw a symbol at the head of every young Charlie Parker?

If you want a relationship with the person, you’ll need to be willing to be a teacher. You’ll need to invest the time to hold the person accountable, share clear standards of success and then coach them through the steps to deliver on your expectation. 

If they aren’t willing to be a student, then you know where you stand. And if you aren’t willing to take the time to be a teacher, then you have no one else to blame.


  1. Amy Steenbock 5 years ago
    Thank You is a very powerful statement. If said half heartedly it means very little. It has to be said with feeling, say only if you mean it. You get more with honey than vinegar. People will go out of their way, do their very best if they are congratulated, thanked, appreciated. Thank you for ......, you went out of your way on....., I appreciate you.
  2. Sheila Mroczynski 5 years ago
    I, personally, don't mind being told "good job". It's better than negative feedback or no feedback at all. In the right tone of voice, from the right person, those two words can mean a lot.
  3. Aimee Holbrook 5 years ago
    It's amazing how far a thank you will go when done the right way. It doesn't take much effort to tell or show someone that you appreciate them and the work that they do. Just taking a few moments to sincerely thank someone can make their whole day.
  4. Sharon Malueg 5 years ago
    A good leader will get their team to dig deep with a positive attitude and when that or those people do dig deep, they know by the results of their efforts how good they really did do.
  5. Brianna Finger 5 years ago
    I agree with you all. Giving a half-hearted compliment is usually worse than giving no compliment at all. If you give genuine compliments and give the reasoning behind the compliments the recipient of the compliment will know that you meant it and appreciate that you noticed and care.
  6. Gail Bartz 5 years ago
    A great leader will push their staff to go beyond what is expected. They will become a mentor and teacher and spend however much time it takes to help develop them to get to be the best employee ever. Sometimes the words Good Job are not sincere, but just an appeasement when the leader just doesn't want to take the time to help the employee. Leader and staff both need to use perseverance and learn that the words Great Job will come when both have gone through the difficulties and obstacles of really learning to go above and beyond and do the job perfect.
  7. Tanya Zimmerman 5 years ago
    Thank yous or Good Jobs go a long way. It makes a person feel good and know they did well to keep going. Not saying anything makes a person wonder if they are doing ok and cause more negative feelings as they are not sure where they sit. Hearing Good Job or Thank yous they know when they are on the right track and will promote positive feelings in every situation.
  8. Kay Tellock 5 years ago
    Everyone had such great comments on this one. Being able to personalize the "good jobs" with how it really helped the company/situation is so valuable. That way people feel that it is a genuine compliment.
  9. Lynae Wudstrack 5 years ago
    This reminds me why I miss my dad. I liked doing extra jobs for him because he always had a kind way to say thank you and tell me why he appreciated it. Cooking for some people is more rewarding than for others also - they just seem to like everything you make! I wish I had the talent of some who find thoughtful, fitting gifts, even if something small and simple, just to make you feel special!
  10. Ann 5 years ago
    Everyone again has very good points. Receiving some form of a thank you is appreciated or a thoughtful or heart felt 'good job' goes along ways. Sometimes when it is in an email it maybe overlooked or not accepted well. Everyone works hard at what they do and many times it does go unnoticed or not appreciated. This can really bring moral down as well as production. Dana nailed it on the head, Good Job on this post Dana.
  11. Dana Bessette 5 years ago
    It's nice to receive feedback on a job well done. Often the things we do go unnoticed, because it's our job, and we help people everyday. It's the norm, and is expected. I don't expect a pat on the back all the time.....but it would be nice more often than what it is. Something simple could be an attitude changer.
  12. Tiffany Krueger 5 years ago
    I think with society now days, we don't push each other to excel and do the best we can do. It's so easy to give everyone a "trophy" for participating and doing a mediocre job. I think we should compliment someone when they do a great job or makes a big difference in what they do. I agree that we all respond to different forms of appreciation. Some need public praise, others just need a note, and some appreciate small gifts. It relates to the five love languages: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical tough.
  13. Vicki Riska 5 years ago
    I like Jean's comment about the different ways of telling someone they are doing a good job. It can be verbal or maybe in an email or a thank you or a small gift or taking them to lunch. Everyone is going to receive it differently but sometimes we have to remember it's the trying that counts, too.
  14. Rhonda Schertz 5 years ago
    I agree with Jeff, I think it's best to explain why you did a "good job". Point out why the outcome was so good. I have more of a problem if a good job wasn't done and caused a negative outcome. It's very hard to approach someone on those type of issues.
  15. Melissia Mortensen 5 years ago
    It is always nice to have the why answered when someone says "Good Job" or "Thank You", then they know exactly what they did and know that you are sincere when saying it. Just like saying sorry, as a parent of a young child I make sure my son always explains why he is sorry so I know he understands what he did wrong..
  16. Char Larsen 5 years ago
    Jackie is right on...sometimes saying "good job" isn't adequate because there is no thank you connected with it. Also, elaborating on what you find "good" about the task means much more than using a term that is overused...
  17. Jackie Suehring 5 years ago
    A Thank you can go a long way at work and home. Just being appreciated is great. I try to congratulate when I can.
  18. Waupaca Tellers 5 years ago
    I agree with Jeff. Explaining to the person why they did a "good job" goes a long way. Everyone likes to be appreciated in different ways. I personally like an email, I don't like to be singled out. - Jean, Waupaca
  19. Jeff Wilke 5 years ago
    In congratulating someone for a job well done I try to explain why the person is receiving the complement - made my job easier because..., made the department more efficient because..., solved the customer's issue..., etc.
  20. Debbie Greenberg 5 years ago
    in work situations I really have to watch this because I am always feeling that the worst is going to happen and be very bad. Explain if upper management wants to talk to me (even if is something good) I think it is very bad. As far as my home life I have a better outlook. I have had health issues and I always think they is someone worst than me and shut up a deal with it. Work situation is where I worry all the time. I wish I could control that

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