Shhh! I’m onsite right now with a client leadership team. They’re experimenting with new behavior: listening. There’s a presenter delivering an update right now…. She’s not a member of the team, but has presented to them before. She keeps pausing in astonishment, because they’re not interrupting her. It’s so different than what she’s used to, it’s almost disorienting. The group has chosen to front-load updates and hold their questions for the end, to improve efficiency. They’re doing great with the new behavior, though their level of joking about it betrays the effort it’s demanding.
Now, we’ve stepped into questions and discussion. The leader of the team just noticed that other people’s comments are answering his questions. This is what happens when we don’t jump in the instant a question pops to mind (but we DO capture it): the conversation takes care of our concerns, or our questions evolve. So waiting, listening, and making sure there’s time for questions and discussion all contribute to better conversations and better decisions. Takes some restraint, but is entirely worthwhile.