Put it in their belly, not their back.
You ever have an experience where a senior manager called the death of a living and breathing individual? I don’t mean literal death, I mean figurative death. I mean like when Michael Corleone tells his older brother Fredo, “You’re nothing to me now.”
Here’s that epic scene…
You get it? Harsh. Right? “You are dead to me.”
Except what about the executive who doesn’t have the intestinal fortitude to actually face up and admit it to the other party. Have you ever met him (or her)? I have, and it isn’t pretty.
I once served a senior executive who, when faced with people who would not comply with his wishes, would literally say, “They are dead to me.”
Get it? They won’t take my advice? “Dead to me.”
Won’t see things my way? “Dead to me.”
Said no to me? “Dead…”
It’s a hollow way of looking at the world, to be sure; it is, quite possibly, one of the most self-centered utterings out there. And imagine when it’s done by people in senior positions, but without it being stated to the party who has just died!!!
That means that not only is the other party “dead,” but that he or she is still walking around the organization with a death mark hung on them. Their career in the organization might be over, and their opportunities for advancement might be nonexistent, but the senior exec doesn’t have the nerve to admit it. He may have just created a dead man walking, and stated so to other influential people, but he lacks the courage to counsel the dead man out.
In life, we have the opportunity to do two things with our disappointments about other people. We can backbite and undermine, or we can work them out in front of those who disappoint us.
If you know a dead man walking, then you probably work for or with a person whose moral compass is haywire.
If you’re going to voice your displeasure, have the courage to put the knife in their belly–not their back.