Those 6 Killer Words

Those 6 Killer Words

Those 6 killer words…..

In a flash, leaders shut down creative thinking, limit problem- solving, and curtail inn

ovation on their teams without ever realizing it…and they do it multiple times in a day! It looks like this….team member approaches leader with that ‘question look’ on their face…leader smiles benignly and says the 6 killer words… ’what can I do for you?’

At that exact moment, the course of that conversation has been altered forever…ok a bit dramatic…but stay with me. How the person interprets those six seemingly innocuous words determines the results of that conversation.

If in their mind the team member is saying…wow…she wants to help me…great! Team member gets what they need and walks out, success! However, I think just as often the voice in their head goes something like this…hmmm she is always trying to solve my problems for me, I just wanted to talk out loud, geez I had one simple question, not everything needs a full-court press army response, doesn’t she think I can do this on my own, I wish she would just listen and hear me out. If creating an environment where team members come to you with solutions instead of only coming to you with problems for you to fix is a dream; then the following tip can help you. Use the 3 magic words… ’tell me more’….

The next time someone approaches you with that ‘question look’ on their face and asks you if you have a minute…and you actually have the 15 minutes it will probably take to have a meaningful exchange…then sit back, settle in, and say “sure, tell me more…”.

You are now employing 3 magic words that invite dialogue, squash assumptive thinking, and allow the person to tell you exactly what they came to you for without you jumping to conclusions. It saves your time, your energy, and your breath. The question ‘what can I do for you’ immediately jumps into problem- solving mode and effectively minimizes the many other reasons team members might come to you with that question look on their face. Perhaps they have a new idea they would like to toss around, or they need a sounding board or simply want to talk out a solution with someone credible. By using ‘tell me more’, it gives team members the time and space to think through a scenario, teaches critical thinking skills, and most importantly encourages them to come up with their own answers…which very often are way better than yours! And those aren’t the biggest benefits that come from using the magic phrase ‘tell me more’. The biggest benefits come as a result of actually listening to your team members. It is in the sitting back and settling in that they feel heard and valued and respected…now those benefits are priceless.


Always striving to give you my best,


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