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Leadership Lessons: Ask…. Don’t Tell

Ask…. Don’t Tell
Ask…. Don’t Tell Images

Danielle was known as a splitter. She constantly complained about several of her colleagues to anyone who would listen, including the woman who dusted the offices and emptied the wastebaskets.

It was finally time for her to face the music. She was creating a toxic environment and everyone had their shields up and weapons ready. Trust was down the toilet.

It was a crappy place to work.

Finally David, the team manager decided enough was enough and called for a truce in the form of a meeting between the rivals.

It was awful.

Why? Because David did not have the skill to create a DIALOGUE. Rather, it was a DEBATE. In a debate there is a winner and a loser, which is the form a debate must take. It means squaring off with facts and figures and challenging the other to get him or her into a corner. NOT GOOD for long term relationships.

So I got a call to facilitate.

I had to do pre-calls before we would meet with each of the offended parties and that included Danielle.

GUESS what I found?

Danielle did not have a clue that she was spewing so much venom at work. She was so used to spilling her guts when upset it was just a natural and easy way for her to get through the day. She told me that when she feels attacked she talks and talks and talks.

Danielle was shocked that there was so much animosity and that she was the cause. “Why didn’t David just tell me?” she asked.

I suggested she tell the team what she had told me and then ask David why he had remained silent.

I suggested that each of the 7 team members come up with open ended questions, you know the “how, when, what” kinds of questions that require more than a “yes” or “no” response.

That is called DIALOGUE.

When tensions are high at work take a deep breath and ASK…. DON’T TELL.

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