Saying “well” at the start of an answer to a question is a good indicator that what follows includes things like deflection, accountability avoidance and blame. Watch as David explains.


“Well” is a tell. When you ask a question, if the first word you hear back is “well,” most likely what will follow has an element of avoiding accountability, avoiding responsibility, deflection and it will be defensive and it’ll be vague. 

I was reading the testimony of the CEO of Boeing in the fall of 2019. This is after the two 737 Max crashes. And it struck me that he started a lot of his responses with “Well” comma and then something. 

“Well, we’ve been focused on . . .”  

“Well, we made things much safer the last 20 years . . .”  

“Well, safety is very important . . .” 

“Well, we really feel bad for the people impacted . . .” 

So, in all those cases, he wasn’t really answering the question. It was a deflection to his “talking points.” So, I’d avoid saying “well” yourself because it sends a signal – even if it’s subconscious – that what follows is likely to be BS. And number two is, when you hear “well,” prepare yourself. 

Well is a tell.  

I’m David Marquet. That’s your Leadership Nudge. 

Sandy Wilmer

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Intent-Based Leadership International, LLC • 1435 E. Venice Ave #104-173 • Venice, FL 34292 • +1.941.408.0311

Intent-Based Leadership International, LLC • 1435 E. Venice Ave #104-173 • Venice, FL 34292 • +1.941.408.0311

Intent-Based Leadership International, LLC • 1435 E. Venice Ave #104-173 • Venice, FL 34292 • +1.941.408.0311