Most people want and appreciate a boss or work colleague who is direct and to the point. But it’s about the way that’s conveyed. We’ve all found ourselves resisting someone else not because of what they are saying, but how they are saying it. They may strike us as arrogant, unfeeling, rude, or overly critical. It’s been said that 90 percent of the friction in our relationships comes from the wrong tone of voice.

The number one rule in working with others is to focus on the issue, problem, or behavior and not the person. We often don’t recognize when we’re making statements of exasperation, broad brush (“you’re always so ______”), or judgment (“you’re too _____”). We need to ensure we’re focusing on facts, what we’ve observed, or what we are feeling. We often don’t realize when we’re putting labels or generalizations on other people or their behavior. A good team leadership or supervisory training program can be a great investment to help with this common trap.

We need to take action when we feel we can make a difference. That’s being a navigator or leader, not a just-getting-by survivor or victim. But it’s all about how we take that action. Bosses or managers get people to do things because they have to. Leaders get people to do the same things because they want to. It’s the same goal, but with a world of difference in execution and long-term results.