Karin’s Leadership Articles

Less is Less: The Problem with Soundbites

by | Apr 2, 2013 | By Karin Hurt, Communication |

I’ve screwed up “less,” by extrapolating to more. I’ve embarrassed myself by jumping to soundbites.

Something is wrong somewhere in one location, on one team, with one important customer.

Don’t assume the problem is far-reaching. One mistake may be one mistake. One employee does not represent the entire team. One problem may not mean you need more training, incentives, or change. Beware of the one-off sound bite.

Avoid the Lure of “Less”

“Rumors are like ripples in a cornfield. They are ephemeral, but they do indicate which way the wind is blowing.”
~Susan J. Palmer

Don’t jump to soundbites. Pause. Follow these tips.

  • Breathe
  • Clarify
  • Get more data
  • Isolate the variables
  • Connect the dots
  • Ask provocative questions
  • Ask the obvious questions
  • Know your biases
  • ?

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders resolve workplace ambiguity and chaos, so that they can drive innovation, productivity and revenue without burning out employees. She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and a hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.


  1. Steve Borek

    It all comes down to Emotional Intelligence.

    Be fully aware of how you react to situations. Analyze what’s going on with you. Do you see a pattern developing? The solution is easier said than done. Interrupt the pattern.

    Appreciative inquiry is another method. Ask insightful forward thinking questions.

    Don’t explore -why- something happened. Instead, ask questions that come from the position of what we’ll do moving forward. Future focused puts everyone in a different mood.

    p.s. Yesterday, I had my first candy and ice cream after 74 days. I really really really enjoyed the ice cream. The candy? Not so much.

  2. letsgrowleaders

    Steve, Interrupting patterns… yes. Perhaps you tried the wrong candy 😉

    • Steve Borek

      They were my fave. Dark chocolate covered almonds!

  3. Dallas Tye

    I love people and the crazy things they sometimes do. In business though, I have found we don’t always need different ways of seeing the world, and we don’t always need change.

    In the org I recently separated from I had a senior person who would, at every customer complaint, demand change, and would set the (costly and distracting ) wheels in motion for said change.

    Me? Well before being a people lover, I was a process lover, and some of that lingers in me, so I would remind said senior person that sometimes it could be an error on the part of the customer, or, according to the data, a special cause that was unlikely to ever happen again.

    So,, I’m in agreement with the ‘get more data’ bullet above before making assumptions something is wrong.

    A quote I enjoyed in those situations: “In God we trust- all others must bring data”.
    – W. Edwards Deming.

    • letsgrowleaders

      Dallas, the combo of people and process lover is quite powerful. We need both. The synergy is so vital for vibrant organizations.

  4. merrill

    Incredible! This blog looks just like my old one! It’s on a entirely different topic but it has pretty much the same layout and design. Outstanding choice of colors!

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