Our verbal and listening habits have a direct effect on our productivity and our professional outcomes. These engagement habits can lead to wasteful debates over false choices and choke off relevant business facts. When ideas and facts flow easily and teams engage in authentic business-driven discussions, productivity and results soar.
“Start with a YES and see where that takes you”. – Tina Fey
Try these three magic words to improve communication and increase performance, transparency, decision quality and your team’s productivity:
1. Start with YES to encourage information flow.
Engage in a way that signals others you’re open to considering their ideas, facts and input. Tina Fey aptly finds it jarring when someone’s first answer is no — “no, we can’t do that” or “no, we don’t have the budget.” While there are instances where there is no budget, sometimes the “instant no” is more habit than business fact. The result is often a dead stop in the progression of discussion. Productivity is further hampered if people anticipate your stance is a “no” and avoid bringing forward information or ideas altogether. Observe your communication this week and see how often your starting perspective is “no,” how often it’s warranted versus habitual and what happens when you shift to “yes.”
2. Assume AND not OR to reach optimal decisions .
Often people assume each new idea supersedes or displaces those expressed before it – my idea or yours, one option or the other when in fact it’s my idea and yours, one option and another. Without realizing it, we may pit ideas against each other and shut down consideration of additive ideas. This wastes time on false debates rather than advancing toward goals. More importantly, growth usually requires more than one idea, market segment, revenue source, and initiative so the implicit competition may be undermining your real goal. Try using the word “and” in your engagement this week to see if it enriches the fact base for decision-making and productivity of conversations.
3. Ask WHY to signal and ensure you heard .
In dynamic or intense team discussions, asking “why” in response to an idea or fact has three productivity and leadership benefits. First, it signals to the other person that your engagement is authentic. Second, it provides them with an opportunity to share the logic so you genuinely understand. Third, it gives you a pause to consider the idea’s merits before moving on, to frame your “yes and” response, add another “why” or provide a well-considered “no.” In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t take more management time to be an authentic listener than it does to resolve false debates, dig for facts that people don’t want to share or recover from decisions that were ill informed!
Put these words to work this week to reinforce a team engagement model in which ideas are readily shared, facts are transparent and business decisions are enriched with them.
On Tina Fey:
Fey’s Rules for Improv in her book Bossypants, while describing the art of improv, are a brilliant guide to high productivity engagement anywhere. I highly recommend the book — the improv wisdom comes with full-on belly laughs and insight to Fey’s tremendous career accomplishments as comedian, author, director, producer, and actress.
Image Credit: pixabay.com