What Three Things Make the Biggest Difference? (Part Three)

This week, we look at the third concept of “The Big Three.”

This is not new ground for this blog, and I encourage you to check out related posts:

Effective Feedback is About the Future

Leaders Model the Behavior they Expect

Attitude is not everything. Listen to Batman and focus on behavior…

What’s the Magic trick used to control Disney guests?

When addressing anything, be specific.

Most importantly, emphasize the behavior and the outcome.

The outcome is important, because it answers the question “why?”

Brain research (and common sense) teach us that people are more willing to buy into something if they know the reasons why.

Instead of a long-winded explanation, this can be accomplished quickly and casually by mentioning the outcome.

Being specific is important, because it reduces the likelihood of misinterpretation.

We often know exactly what we need, but unless the person we are talking to is psychic, we must spell it out for them.

Talking about behavior, rather than general mood, or mindset, or attitude, keeps it real. Also, if it is something negative, this keeps it from being too personal.

When addressing issues: be specific, state the behavior, and state the outcome.

In each pair of examples below, the second one is more specific, and focuses on the behavior and the outcome.

[weak] Kate, your attitude sucks this week.

[strong] Kate, when you unleash a heavy sigh after everything that Bill says, it has a negative impact on the progress of the whole group.


[weak] Tim, you’re so awesome!

[strong] Tim, when you greet everyone who comes to the door with that sincere look in your eyes and that smile on your face, people are glad they came here. That’s good for us.


[weak] Isaac, you don’t really seem to care about getting here on time, and I’m getting sick of it.

[strong] Isaac, when you show up late, it keeps other people guessing about when you’ll get here and we really aren’t able to get down to work until that uncertainty is resolved.


[weak] Isaac, great! You’re finally showing some commitment get here on time. Thank goodness.

[strong] Isaac, your renewed commitment to being here on time is so helpful to the team. We can get down to business so much more quickly and get to lunch earlier. Thanks.

Speaking specifically, and in terms of behavior and outcome does take a bit more mental energy. And, a bit of planning ahead.

But, making it a habit will make you a more effective leader, and increase the buy-in of those you work with.

  1. Wade
    | Reply

    Isaac, your effort and active participation in band has improved greatly and your focus has improved those around you. We can attend to the business of making music when active participation is happening. Thanks. (real comments that have improved a student teacher relationship)

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