A little impatience goes a long way

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in Office Communication,Workplace Communication

Admit it: You’re tired of management gurus who say, “Listen patiently to your people,” “Show interest in their personal lives” and “Invest time to build consensus in meetings.”

That all sounds nice. But you rush through your overstuffed workdays with hardly a moment to spare.

Impatience can actually work to your advantage. It can help you maximize interactions with employees, chop away conversational fluff and drill down quickly to the core issue.

Consider how Jack Welch, General Electric’s former CEO, reacted to managers who launched into PowerPoint slide shows. He would bark, “Turn that thing off and tell me what you have to say. Do you have anything to say?”

Tweak Welch’s example by politely asking long-winded presenters, “In the interest of time, would you please tell me your recommendations?” Ask for a copy of the slides to review later.

Impatience also helps when someone dodges your question. Rather than wait endlessly while the speaker veers off track, interrupt after about 15 seconds and repeat your inquiry. This signals that you want an answer and you won’t accept evasion.

If someone knocks at your office door and requests “a minute of your time,” jump in within 30 seconds if you’re unclear what the person wants. It’s fine to ask in a pleasant voice, “Are you making a request or giving me information?”

Insisting that speakers make their point succinctly saves everyone’s time and prevents misunderstandings. And your emphasis on clear communication can lead others to speak with more bluntness and confidence.

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