Your employees ask lots of questions. You love to feed them the correct answers.
That’s fine, to a point. But if you’re always sure that you’re right—and you speak in a tone of know-it-all certainty—you actually can lose credibility even though you possess vast knowledge.
Research by Zakary Tormala, a professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business, shows that simply because you’re an expert who speaks with confidence doesn’t guarantee you’ll convince people. You may stand a better chance of wooing others if you acknowledge a degree of uncertainty about your views.
While Tormala’s research focused on consumer experts, the findings shed light on how to manage people. Even if you have all the answers, don’t dish them out at will.
Consider other techniques to engage your staff. For example, invite them to share their thoughts before you supply the correct answer. Explore why they’re interested in the first place. Or posit multiple answers and spark a debate as employees weigh the merits of various possibilities.
Another technique is to encourage inquisitive employees to conduct experiments to find out for themselves. This way, you coach people to learn and grow on the job by stoking their curiosity.
If you don’t know the answer, say so. You build trust by admitting what you don’t know rather than trying to cover it up.