HOW TO GET THE BEST FROM PEOPLE: ASK NOT TELL!
Why is it that whenever we are up against a deadline it can seem as if the world is trying to slow us down and put as many obstacles in the way as possible and test us to the extreme?
It might be a presentation for an important meeting for work when you are relying on someone else for some final information to complete the slides and be ready to deliver your masterpiece or it might that you are already running late when your 4 year old decides they don’t want to put their shoes on after all and so delaying you further. When we’re up against it for time do we really show ourselves in our best light, or, do we revert back to what we believe is the fastest way to get what we want out of the situation?
Our default setting can be to cut to the chase and just tell people what we need them to do. Be it telling your colleague that whilst you appreciate they are busy you need those charts or numbers in order that your own deadline is met; or, as your four year old stands their feeling empowered by their ability to make their own decision that they don’t want to wear shoes today after all, you end up telling them that not only will they put their shoes on, but they do it now!?!
Whilst telling someone what we need them to do may sometimes, even most of the time get us the result we want, does it makes us feel good, and does it enrich and develop our relationship with the person we are telling? My guess is that it does neither.
So what are our options?
Well rather than telling we could ask. We could ask our colleague what would enable them to be able to get us the information we need in the time we need it, or what we could do in return to help them out next time (so long as we mean it. Authenticity is key, both to others believing us as well as us feeling good about ourselves). With our four year old we could give them options. They could either put on their shoes or we could all miss out on the reason for leaving the house. By giving people options, especially young children, we give them choices and provide them with the opportunity to feel a part of the decision making process rather than just a subordinate.
Overall, we are trying to find a way to empower others, so that we are truly all working towards a common goal, a shared vision and place where we all feel good about the role we have played and the way we have participated in our shared relationship.
So next time you are in a rish or up against it for a deadline, rather than slipping into tell mode and making you and others feel resentful of each other and the deadline, try asking and I promise you, you’ll feel empowered and motivated by the change in how people respond to you and the positive experience of sharing a common goal with others.
Ask NOT Tell!
For more information on this and other useful communication and goal achieving tools contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me on twitter @velvetevolution.