Ask – Don’t Tell!

Today I’ll share a couple of tips for any leader that is sometimes frustrated with their team not stepping up, or feel they are not quite getting the message he or she is sending. Let’s use an example of you having a meeting on Monday, handing out instructions, and on Friday, your team doesn’t have what you asked for. As a leader, you get frustrated. You’re thinking I’ve told them again and again and again. Are they listening? Do they care? I’m not sure. Let me share a couple of tips to help you.

Ask – Don’t tell. Simple as that. Ask. Don’t tell. We know exactly what we want to instruct and what directions we want to give the team so they can follow to get the job done, however, it doesn’t always seem to be working.  

Tip #1: Ask – Don’t tell. If we’re talking and we’re not asking questions, the person we’re talking to, their brain is not working. A lot of times, if you tell somebody over and over again, and let’s all speak for ourselves, you’ve heard the same person tell you the same thing over and over again. Are you really listening or are you just waiting for them to shut up and go away so you can get back to what you were previously doing? We all know the answer to that. If I ask you a question, you have to stop, you have to think, you have to register, you have to go through the process and answer it. This process gets your brain working.

Instead of saying, “We need to do this,” ask “What do you think we need to do? What’s your opinion? What do you think we could do better?” You’re engaging their brain. They have to stop. They have to listen. As a leader, this takes the pressure off of you because if you’re frustrated and say, we need to do this, they’re feeling that energy. However, if you’re calm and asking questions, they’re doing all the work. You engage their brain. They have to come up with the answers. When they come up with the answers you say, “That’s great. How do you think we can apply that and get results?” They have another question that they answer, and they’re actually speaking to themselves. They’re coming up with the plan of execution. Wherever you want them to go, don’t tell them what they need to do. Ask them a question to get them in the direction of where you want them to go.

Tip # 2: You have to understand the VAC, Visual – Auditory – Kinesthetic. It’s important to understand that only 20% of people are auditory. What does that mean? That means only 20% of people are actually listening. Only 20% of the population have great listening skills, which means if you have a meeting on Monday morning and you give everyone directives of exactly what they need to do, and you are just telling them, how many are going to have that done? Only two out of 10, because the odds are 80% of them, eight out of 10, are not listening. Why? It’s not because they’re rude or don’t care, it’s because they’re not auditory.

Now, if you ask them, “Okay, Jonathan, let me ask you a question. What exactly should you be delivering back to me on Friday?” After his reply, you ask. “What’s the process that we need to go through between now and then?” After a reply, you then ask. “Has everyone written this down?” They reply, “Yes.” You wrap it up with. “So, do I have everyone’s commitment that will be done by Friday?” They reply, “Yes.” “Great, let’s have a great week.” You’re asking them questions. You’re engaging them. They’re telling you. They’ve repeated back to you. 

Now let’s say Friday, someone shows up, and they didn’t follow through. Don’t get frustrated, just focus on and praise the ones that did follow through on the instructions.

“Thank you very much for following the directives. Awesome job. What did you learn in that process? John, Sally, you had the same instructions that everybody else received. Is that correct?” “Yes.” “Am I missing something?” Praise the ones that have stepped up and act a little confused with the ones that didn’t. They’ll get the message. Take the pressure off of you, put it on them.

The lesson today is, that in business we know what directives and instructions we want to give our team. Don’t tell them the same thing over and over again and get frustrated when they don’t deliver. The reality is, they’re just waiting for you to shut up, and go away, so they can get back to work. Ask them questions to engage them, let them come up with the answers, so they’ll register them, and then ask them, Do I have your commitment? Good job. Go get ’em.” That’s it.

If you ask more questions, instead of telling with your team, I guarantee you, when you master this strategy, you will get far, far, far better results and you will also see which of your employees are in the game and stepping up, and which ones are not. Then of course you can make decisions accordingly down the road. 

Remember; Ask – Don’t tell! 

COACH MICHAEL DILL is an Award-Winning Certified Business Coach, global speaker, and published author. He is a proud Action Coach Franchise partner as well as the President of Power & Ice Wealth Creation a strategic leadership company that works with business owners, leaders, teams, and entrepreneurs to both develop a systematized and structured organization while accelerating their mindset, efficiencies, and effectiveness to grow both personally and professionally to achieve extraordinary results. He brings more than 40 years of business and entrepreneurial experience in his leadership, team training, and mentoring practice. Businesscoachmichaeldill.com