Powerful people often insist that they’re great listeners. In truth, however, some of them interrupt frequently and rarely listen with an open mind.
As a young manager, Earl Furfine worked with Robert Crandall, the former head of American Airlines. When briefing Crandall, Furfine noticed that the formidable CEO sometimes “stopped me mid-sentence” to speak.
Furfine marveled at how confident managers would succinctly make their point to Crandall or suggest a solution based on solid evidence. “Those he respected were not afraid to speak up and challenge him,” Furfine recalls.
In the years following his encounters with Crandall, Furfine developed a three-part strategy to maximize his influence when meeting with powerful personalities. He learned that whenever he felt a desire to speak up and make an important point, he’d ask himself three questions first:
1. Does it need to be said?
2. Does it need to be said by me?
3. Does it need to be said right now?
He observed that when others made comments in meetings, they did not necessarily think of these three questions before speaking up. In fact, many managers wasted time remarking on trivial matters, or raising important points at the wrong time or in the wrong place.
Applying the questions to himself, Furfine concluded that well over half of the time, he could not honestly answer yes to all three questions. Even if he felt the point needed to be said by him, he realized that he did not need to voice it at that moment.
— Adapted from “Do you really need to say that right now? Policing your words,” Earl Furfine, www.smartceo.com.