Frustrated With Your Results! What Are You Missing?
Ever have someone speak to you in a foreign language you don’t know and they expect you to understand what they are saying?
I was attending a friend’s birthday party and her mother was visiting from Germany. When her mother saw me, she walked up to me and started speaking to me in German. My friend, Anne, came over to explain to her mother that I didn’t speak German. She looked at her confused and said, (in German because she didn’t speak English) “She looks German.”
Drawing conclusions about what others know, think, need or how they feel based on your experience or what you know can be dangerous and extremely frustrating. Whether it is with people on your team, clients, peers or even family members and friends.
When you accept un-investigated thinking as the truth, without proof or facts to back it up, you are making an assumption. My dad always told us as kids, when you make assumptions you make an ass out of you and me! This is clearly a no-win scenario and not very flattering.
Assumptions are a shortcut that many leaders seem to take due to lack of time. Sometimes they are necessary, but often these assumptions are costing leaders time, creating frustration and draining their energy. They feel rushed so they stick to what they know, don’t take the time to investigate other ideas and are not communicating to be understood.
ASSUMPTIONS CAN LOOK LIKE THIS
When you have been involved with a project from the beginning and know all the details intimately it can cloud the level of explanation you need to provide your team. To you it all makes sense and it is easy to assume there isn’t much explanation needed, especially because your team has worked on a similar project. You answer their basic tactical questions and walk away feeling they’ve got this. They walk away knowing the basic tasks although feel overwhelmed and unsure of how all the pieces fit together. To them, it sounds like you are speaking a foreign language, as you are communicating from a higher level of knowing (coming from a place of what you know) and assuming they understand.
This is “the curse of knowledge.” Once you know something, you take it for granted and it becomes challenging to recreate what you need to communicate from your listeners’ state of mind.
Assumptions create communication gaps. This happened with a leader I was working with who was always well prepared when meeting with clients but wasn’t closing the deals. She and her potential clients established a great connection, so what was she not doing? She assumed her clients needed to hear and get the information in the same way she did, knowing every step and every detail. Even though her potential clients liked her, the ones that didn’t align with her communication style and the need for detail would choose not to work with her. She was frustrated by the assumptions she didn’t even know she was making!
Assumptions create a gap in results. How about your new direct report that was brought in because he was a superstar in another organization performing the same role and now isn’t meeting your expectations? The assumption is he is a superstar so he knows what to do. The truth, he is not clear on what you expect so he is working from his own assumptions based on his experience versus your expectations.
PRACTICES TO IMPLEMENTTo stop making assumptions and start getting different results begin to implement the following practices…
- Listen to hear the different perspectives and gather the facts before concluding the best approach.
- Ask questions to understand where your audience is so you can better guide the conversation.
- Set the conditions for success to clarify expectations and save everyone time and effort.
- Stay curious to help you to engage with others on a deeper level and inspire you to investigate beyond what might be obvious.
- Give others what they need. Not everyone is the same so, like my client, you can close more deals and achieve more success if you communicate to meet your audience’s needs.
WHEN IN QUESTION
Do a personal brand check! Remind yourself how you want to come across and align your behaviours to get the results you desire.
Stay open! Don’t assume, investigate!
Align yourself with what matters most to you. Live your brand fully expressed with intention and purpose to play bigger!
Are you interested in having a conversation to explore how you can define your personal brand and accelerate your growth as a leader, individually or as a team? Send an e-mail to book a complimentary 30-minute consultation.