Tom Peters, well-know business management thinker and author of In Search of Excellence writes…
“Management is about arranging and telling. Leadership is about nurturing and enhancing.” (Emphasis added)
Last week I shared my communication mantra:
Ask MORE, Tell LESS…Teach when You Can
Calling on the Quill Pig I pointed out the negative emotional affect of telling in communication. Telling usually shuts down dialog, discovery, and personal contribution. Effective leaders avoid this communication approach with their team. Why?
Telling pushes people away.
The Human Connection
Paul Meyer correctly identifies communication as “the human connection”. If you believe, as I do, that the business of business is people then making the human connection makes sense.
It is a key to personal and business success.
There is nothing quite like open-ended questions and the power of asking. Remember how…
- Asking encourages an exchange of ideas, discussion, dialogue
- Asking sends a message of value, respect, and honor
- Asking shows a level of trust and appreciation
- Asking flows from a place of freedom
- Asking indicates a released need to control
What’s your communication goal as a leader?
Whereas telling pushes people away, asking invites people to stay. The ability to have a positive influence is enhanced when others stay engaged in the conversation, the project, problem solving or decision making.
Of course there is a time to provide direction or to set expectations: teach when you can.
Why don’t we ask more?
Effective communication involves exchanging information in order to accomplish something; so why push others away by telling?
If telling is a self-defeating behavior…why so much telling?
Here are a couple of my thoughts, what do you think?
- Control – What happens when there is a desire to control (limit or restrict) who does what on a project? What drives the need to be in control? What is the outcome? This driver limits the opportunity for others to contribute, to grow, to develop their skills.
- Fear – Anxiety can push us into telling; doesn’t that minimize the risk?
- Defensiveness – Telling usually prevents communication. As Abraham Maslow points out:
“Behavior in the human being is sometimes a defense, a way of concealing motives and thoughts, as language (telling?) can be a way of hiding your thoughts and preventing communication.” (Emphasis added)
- Pace – How does the speed of life make us think telling saves time?
- Habit – Whether you think telling is poor communication or not it is often a regularly repeated behavior pattern.
Do you want the power?
Chief Justice of the United States, John Marshall writes, “To listen well is as powerful a means of communication and influence as to talk well.”
- Most of us prefer the respect and honor given when we are invited to use our voice…when asked to contribute
- Talented, thinking, skilled people resist being told what to do
- Asking invites people to stay; telling pushes them away
To develop the skillful leadership habit of asking well-framed questions will take your influence to the next level. What do you want?
Ask More, Tell Less, Teach When You Can
- What role does trust play in open communication?
- How might the fear play into being a teller?