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Jan
25
Alex Somos

Leading people who have the inability to follow simple advice or suggestions is frustrating. Why don’t people listen? And how often do I have to tell them to do something or not do something?

Helping people change is just not that simple.  It’s not as simple as telling them what to do or not do, and repeating the directive numerous time certainly doesn’t help. When we hit a spot where we need to change, we seem to give ourselves a lot of grace for our intent even if we don’t achieve our goal. But when others miss the mark, we are quick with judgment of the activity, and seldom take the time to understand their intent.  Here’s what I’ve learned in my 31 years as a leader:

Never underestimate the information morass that people are being flooded with.  People are swimming in information but starving for context and implication thinking. Repeat the same message but from different perspectives.

People have different frames of reference. Don’t settle for “I got it” or a nod of the head. Check their understanding of what you said. I used to doubt the value of taking the time and opportunity to check understanding. I soon learned that when things went sideways it was because people typically misunderstood my instructions because their frames of reference were different.  I am amazed at how often people reflect back what they have understood and discover it is not at all what I meant!

Take most of the responsibility for how your message is understood. I now believe that YOU are responsible for making sure another person understands what you are trying to convey because your responsibility to the person is not discharged until they do. How can people do what you have asked if they don’t really get what you have asked them to do? It’s your message; take the responsibility for making sure it’s understood.

What is the payoff? The paradox of doing the above with consistency is more speed, engagement, better results and  less stress and frustration for you and for people you work with.

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