Things Successful Leaders Avoid Saying (Part 9)

Here’s a common question, but it’s confusing and vague:

“Would you mind?”

For example, “Would you mind getting the report in a day early?”

Seems like a basic question – but how do you handle the answer, “Sure!”

Lots of times, it goes like this:

“Sure… sure you’ll do it, or sure you’ll mind?”


“Like, was that a ‘sure, I’ll do it’ or a ‘yes, I mind, so it’s really a no.’?”

“No, it’s a yes. I mean, yes I’ll do it. A day early. I don’t mind.”

“Oh, okay.”

Confusing, and almost tense. If you were trying to be efficient, you’ve blown it by slowing things down.

Like so many other things to avoid saying, try substituting this phrase:

“Will you please…”

As in, “Will you please get the report in a day early?”

It’s clearer, less passive-aggressive, and has a polite word in it.

Try ditching, “Would you mind” by replacing it with, “Will you please?”

  1. joel
    | Reply

    Hey Alan,

    Always love your short emails! I recently heard a speaker-friend of mine say, “Never use ambiguous language; would, could, should, maybe…” I love that statement, and than you for today’s addition.

    My best,

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