7 Verbal Attacks From Lousy Leaders

Karl Bimshas
4 min readJul 13, 2022

Ideally, adults have the maturity and the skills to handle conflict without name-calling, shaming, and other methods of cloaking their insecurity. Alas, we have not yet achieved that utopian state.

As an effective leader, you put yourself out there and take the heat others throw your way because you know it comes with the territory. For some, these confrontations are uncomfortable, if not terrifying.

As an effective leader, you will never become comfortable with verbal assaults because doing so would indicate a loss of humanity and compassion. You will, nonetheless, find ways to get used to them. Strong values and a clear vision help immeasurably, as does adjusting your ego. If you convince yourself that even the most vicious opponent may have a valid point buried within their tirade, you immediately become a person with greater empathy. That is a worthy aim.

As an effective leader, you will inevitably receive criticism. Never allow that reality to keep you from leading well. Sometimes the critiques will come from your rivals, sometimes your friends, and often from other leaders who attempt to keep you at bay by outdated means. Critics will also emanate from unexpected sources, perhaps the people you serve who have not yet bought into your vision for the future.

Anonymous cowards behind keyboards are comfortable composing repulsive things. Our coarsening surroundings seemingly celebrate a lack of dignity and foster more brazen face-to-face exchanges.

Listed below are real-life examples of contempt-filled words spewed at leaders from across rooms or whispered into their ears. It may open your eyes, or perhaps you’ll nod your head in agreement. The suggested responses to each statement attempt to provide a cathartic, if not helpful, retort to keep in mind, or under your breath, the next time you encounter unsupportive people.

When they say, “Your idea is embarrassing.”

You ask, “How would you improve it?”

When they say, “You’ll be laughed at”

You say, “That doesn’t bother me. Does it bother you?”

When they say, “You’re not ready.”

You say, “You don’t get to decide that.”

When they say, “People are talking about you.”

You say, “Excellent. I exist.”

When they say, “They don’t want to deal with you people.”

You say, “Would you like to rephrase that because ‘you people’ is a non-starter?”

When they say, “You’re an embarrassment.”

You say, “Raise your self-esteem, and you’ll be less embarrassed.”

When they say, “Your opinion and perspective aren’t needed.”

You say, “The difference between us is, I’ll consider them all, even yours.”

You may have heard similar insults or thought of alternative responses. Please share them in the comments so others can learn from you. Leading is a teaching profession.

If you lead or are contemplating leading, keep at it. Yes, it is sad that there are professionals from all walks of life who have no qualms about treating others poorly. I urge you to consider their barbs as badges you earn while you courageously lead people through change.

Stay strong. With your unwavering commitment, you can help reduce the effect of poor leadership and ensure that effective leaders outnumber lousy leaders in your environment.

Quiet Rebel

You can be a quiet rebel.

Read the books they don’t want you to read.

Learn the things they don’t want you to learn.

Let the only gatekeeper to your thirst for knowledge be your imagination.

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Karl Bimshas

Boston-bred and California-chilled Leadership Adviser | Writer | Podcast Host who helps busy professionals who want to manage better and lead well.