Playing with Words: No More Buts!

Guest post from regular Great
Leadership contributor Rich Wellins:

 About a decade ago, I heard the
words for the first time:  I don’t
necessarily disagree with you
”.  The
phrase was used by a colleague at work in the midst of a discussion on how best
to approach a sales situation.  I’m sure
he was not the first to use the six words in sequence.  However, fair to say since then, I have heard
it dozens of times.  It’s usually
followed by a single word.  You guessed
it – “but”.  I hate it.  In fact, I rather the person just tell me
that my idea was off-the-wall.

In a world where innovation is
crucial, leaders need to do a better job of listening and building on the ideas
of others.  Four simple tips:

1.    Listen carefully
to what others have to say.  But, listen
to understand, not refute.  I can’t tell
you the number of times I was ready to pounce on someone before they were
halfway through their first sentence.

2.     You plus
upon other people’s ideas.  It is a
simple technique that works like a charm. 
Build upon others’ ideas to make it better.  An example: 
“Mary, I love your idea to write a story for our newsletter on the team’s
new R&D project.  May I plus
that by suggesting we also do a short internal video interview with the team?”

3.     Another tougher
technique is to ask questions about the feasibility of a particular idea or
opinion.  My boss is an expert at this and
gently leads me to realize how dumb many of my suggestions really are without
making me feel stupid.  Or, by asking
questions he helps me improve my original idea.

4.     Finally, if
you do disagree, say so respectfully with your reasons why, or, if possible, offer
a better alternative.

Let’s reduce the number of “I don’t
necessarily disagree”.

Rich Wellins, Ph.D. is senior vice
president of
Development Dimensions
(DDI), and is an expert on leadership development,
employee engagement and talent management. He is responsible for launching
DDI’s new products and services, leading DDI’s Center for Applied Behavioral
Research (CABER) and its major research projects and developing and executing
DDI’s global marketing strategy.