Bad Buchos

Back to Contents of Issue: June 2005

by Andrew Silberman

BadCom Bucho
We're coming to the end of our series of Bad Buchos and we're going to focus on communication. This issue, we'll highlight (lowlight?) three bad communication styles under the umbrella of the "BadCom Bucho": the hot-tempered verbal abuser; the clever, sarcastic demotivator; and the silent neglector.

BadCom Bucho version 1: Temperatures & tempers rising
It's July, and the thermometers are soaring. Much worse than a hot day is the hot-tempered bucho who feels it's perfectly within his rights to yell, swear at, humiliate and otherwise ridicule his subordinates. Didn't make sales quota this month? This overly aggressive verbal abuser explodes: "You F&*@ing weak excuse for a man! We never should have hired you! Get the F&*@ out of this office and don't F&*@ing come back without a new account -- and I mean NOW!"

If you think I just made up the above quote, you're right. But we've heard stories much worse than this fictitious one. I recall one client whose bucho punched him in the stomach for not signing a customer to a loan he was "supposed to win." While that may be extreme, any humiliation, and especially humiliation in front of others, will always be counterproductive -- unless your goal is to have your subordinate leave your company and take others with him. As a bonus, he may decide to file a grievance against your firm.

BadCom Bucho version 2: Cleverness that kills
More common than the screaming bucho, and in some ways more harmful, is the bucho whose clever wit works to demoralize his staff. He thinks he's being funny, and if life were a television comedy, he might just be a star. But for every idea he puts down with an ironic comment, or that he flattens with a snide tone of voice, this particular bad bucho has killed off at least three other ideas. Sarcasm and irony may have their place, but not on a highly motivated and productive team. You might remind this BadCom Bucho how much more intelligence is required to come up with words that create rather than destroy.

BadCom Bucho version 3: No news is bad news
Now we move way over to the silent, passive bucho. He may be the hardest to work under -- especially for your younger staff. This BadCom Bucho provides little or no feedback at all, good or bad. He leaves subordinates completely in the dark, with only an occasional hint or a guess as to how they're performing. He may, if pressed, fill out the personnel evaluations sent by headquarters, but they offer little guidance for improvement since they're done at the last minute and only because the company requires them.

From BadCom to GoodCom?
We've seen some dramatic results with managers who take a half day to a day and a half off-site to learn how to improve their "emotional intelligence" (EQ). What they learn goes beyond changes in the office -- several participants have shared that their marriages (and in one case, a life) were saved, due to what they learned and now practice. One leading shacho wanted his sales team to directly see what he had experienced so they would understand (and hold him to) his new way of communicating. Yes, there is hope for the BadCom Bucho. As we end this series (for now), a word of thanks to all of you who've written in with comments, suggestions, and opinions regarding these Bad Bucho articles. Given what you've shared, some of you could write your own series, "Even Worse Buchos." Keep your comments and questions coming -- we may address your issue in a future article. JI


Andrew Silberman is president and chief enthusiast for AMT Group, K.K., Developing Global Thinkers since 1992. Send questions or comments to or click on

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