One of the most common preferences I’ve come to see in my years of working with business teams is describing a team with the word, “fine.”

I have some bad news: when you say the word, “fine,” it doesn’t mean what you think it does.

Here are just a few examples of things people have said to me when I’ve asked what they really mean by “fine:”

“It’s not that bad, really. It’s fine.”

“I’m not sure I would call it bullying. Sometimes it sucks, but most of the time, I think it’s fine.”

“Well, you know, I’m sure it could be better, but we’re making goal most of the time. So, it’s fine.”

“When that colleague comes into the office, we all just get real quiet and look busy. It’s fine.”

“I guess we’re just used to working with unrealistic goals and priorities that change a lot. It’s fine.”

“I don’t really expect people to go out of their way for anybody here. But we’re fine with that.”

“I’m not planning to stay here that long anyway, so it’s fine.”

“This is the way it’s always been. It’s fine.”

I think “fine” is really code for, “could be a lot better.”

Here’s the good news: you can choose to go beyond “fine.” Here are some examples of other states of being you can choose:



Exceeding goals


Looking forward to


Seeing possibilities



You don’t even have to do anything special to claim these for your team immediately. When you are tempted to say “fine,” you simply say a more descriptive word instead. That’s the whole assignment.

I know it seems difficult, but you can do it. I know because I help teams get beyond “fine” every day. And I can help you too. In fact, you can choose to have meetings that are better than fine right now. Download our Cheat Sheet to Disrupt Damaging Meeting Behaviors.

Do you lead a team with Millennials, GenX-ers and Boomers (maybe even Zs and Traditionalists, too)? Are you worried that your multigenerational team is stuck at “fine?”  You can skyrocket your success as a leader by mastering your ability to be clear, stop making excuses for people, and model the behavior you want to see.

Join our Great Teams on Purpose Mastermind that begins April 9, 2019. Registration closes April 5. Learn more about it by clicking below.

What are some words (other than "fine") you could use to describe one of the teams you are working on now? Leave a comment below!

Kay Coughlin, CEO and Chief Facilitator of Facilitator On Fire, is on a mission to help Millennials, Gen X-ers and Boomers (and Zs and Traditionalists, too!) work together on teams that are higher-performing and happier.

Kay’s Great Teams on Purpose Mastermind helps leaders and managers build amazing multi-generational teams (register here) . The skill she teaches in her public speaking, “How to be Heard in a Noisy Business World,” is part of the formula she created to help teams become abundantly successful, together.


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