It’s easy to adopt a directive communication style. You’re busy, trying to get ten things done at a time. As a leader, you’re responsible for keeping things moving. You don’t have time to communicate the subtleties of your thinking. Hey, sometimes you’re not even clear yourself.
But has that directive style sometimes backfired? People don’t always cooperate? Or maybe they do what you tell them resentfully and with mistrust. Sometimes your style alone results in pushback and resistance, wasting time and causing tension.
There is something pretty simple that can improve the situation: try making your assumptions visible.
When people know what you based your conclusions on, it reduces uncertainty. Uncertainty is a breeding ground for mistrust and anxiety. People are more likely to willingly do what you ask them if you make your thought process visible. Here’s a great example of how sharing your assumptions can inspire confidence.
There are three simple things you can do:
- Take a few minutes to clearly connect the dots between the data you considered and your decision or conclusions.
- Share it with people: “Here are my conclusions and here’s how I got here.”
- Be open to questions or counteroffers. After all, if the people you’re responsible for are thinking for themselves, then you don’t have to do the thinking for them!
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