Things Successful Leaders Avoid Saying (Part 8)

posted in: Communication 2

There are times in conversations or meetings when you really want to move on, but you don’t want to shut people down. So, you use a generic question that unintentionally telegraphs a lack of openness, rather than a desire to check-in.

For example:

“Does that make sense?”

“Any questions?”

“Does everybody get that?”

Unfortunately, there’s no good way out of this for someone with a burning question.

No one wants to admit that they can’t “make sense” out of what you’ve described, either because they’ll look dumb, or they’re accusing you of being unclear.

“Any questions?” is usually delivered in a rushed way, without any wait time, so the tone and body language don’t usually match curiosity.

It’s hard for an individual to answer “does everybody get that?” because then they’re speaking for the room.

Instead, ask a question that assumes your information is incomplete; this makes it safer for people to speak up.

“I may have rushed through that; what more information is needed?”

“What questions do you have?” [then wait 5-10 seconds]

“Who wants more information?”

Make a habit of this – create relationships where people know you’re okay with questions and requests for more information, and that you make it safe.

2 Responses

  1. Michelle
    | Reply

    Useful! I could have used this a couple times just this week…now that I know better, I can do better. Thanks, Alan!

    • Alan Feirer
      | Reply

      Wonderful sentiment, Michelle – when we know better, we can do better. Glad it was helpful!

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