Monday, 24 June 2019

Next time suppliers or colleagues are ‘ignoring’ you, best to check your language for clarity

“My manager has told me I need to provide less detail to stakeholders, and I don’t know what they mean.”

This quandary arose in a coaching session and is a wonderful example of people using language they understand and assuming others understand it too. I can imagine the frustration as the manager thinks “I told them they need to be less detailed. Why are they still giving too much detail? They’re just ignoring me”, and so on.
The challenge was the words “less detail” because, whilst the manager had a clear sense of what they meant, the recipient of those words had no idea. For that individual the instructions just weren’t detailed enough. “I only provide the detail that’s needed” “If I provide any less detail it won’t make sense” They just didn’t understand the request and, despite being very willing, had no idea how to change their behaviour. The resulting strategy we developed in the coaching session was something along these lines: 1. Provide short overview 2. Pause and wait for a question 3. Provide short answer 4. Pause and wait for a question
And so on. What this helped them model was if people wanted more detail they could ask for it. Next time suppliers or colleagues are ‘ignoring’ you - best to check your language for clarity.

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