Why I hate the word “interesting” in change management

Estimated read time: 2 minutes



We all have trigger words and I’m highly aware of mine and have strategies to react to them correctly. Nope, I won’t share a list with you. Ha!

Interesting is an interesting word. I wouldn’t call it a trigger word for me quite (yet) but it’s often a sign of passive resistance.

Here’s a change

“Oh, interesting.”

Depending who says that (by culture), it can mean different things, but in North American change management projects it often means:

“You are full of it. I don’t buy in but I had to say something.”

This is based on my observation from 15 years of change management projects across multiple and highly unrelated industries.

People who say that often usually won’t be the lead change agents.

Now, to make matters more difficult, some people use the word as a filler to think about the statement more. Instead of saying “let me think about that and I’ll circle back tomorrow” they use that filler and highly ambiguous word.

I often use it myself when I don’t want to give an opinion. It happens!

“Christoph, what do you think of this idea?”

“Interesting.”

I may as well have said: “Please leave a voicemail!” I don’t check voicemail by the way. Text me!

So, what’s the best way to respond to somebody telling you “interesting?”



Of course: “I dare you to brush me off.”

Of course not. That would be rude. Since my job has been to help teams move forward I like to use it as a jumping off point.

“I’m glad you find it interesting. Can you tell me what pieces exactly?”

First of, that will help me understand which version of “interesting” they were using.

And then I can move the discussion forward and answer questions I didn’t know existed. Being upset about a perceived meaning of a word won’t help move projects forward. In fact, some people use that tactic to stall things further.

“Yes I won’t do that because Christoph said it one way.” Excuses, though anyone can usually work on communications and understanding skills certainly.

This strategy also works with all trigger word. Once you know what words cause a strong emotional and negative reaction, respond with a question to spot the intent. You can still get upset later on your own time! Getting upset hardly ever helps in digital transformation.

I hope you found this interesting – in the good way, of course!