It’s so easy to unintentionally close people down when we’re in a hurry, think we know the answer, assume what the other person means and so on.
Here are a couple of examples:
Team member – ‘I think we need to do some work on helping people understand our values a bit more and what they look like in practice’.
Boss – ‘I disagree – it’s not a priority right now’.
Same boss gets frustrated that her team ‘don’t innovate as much as they should’ and ‘don’t seem to have the creative ideas she is expecting from them’.
I wonder why?!
‘Better’ response?’ I’d like to hear your thoughts on how we do that’/’that’s interesting, I thought everyone was really clear – so tell me more’.
That opens up a dialogue.
Here’s a second example:
Team member – ‘I can’t get my voice heard in the meeting. I try to speak but get drowned out by the louder voices. I don’t know what to do’.
Boss – ‘I’ll give you an agenda topic to work with so you can lead on that, okay?’
Team member (to self) - ‘that’s not going to help at all – why is he making that assumption?’
‘Better’ response? ‘Thanks for bringing that up! What would you like to do to change that – and how can I help?’
Now sometimes of course we legitimately need to close people down – but in the above two examples it was unintentional and had negative consequences.
As two of my male clients said recently (I swear I’m not making this up) ‘My wife always says to me she doesn’t want me to tell me what to do she just wants me to listen’.
Guess what they’ve been tasked with this Valentine’s Day!