But when the leader’s opinions are expressed in language that emphasizes the mission, people feel more open to express new, innovative, even half-baked ideas that might eventually become something great.
3. …shuts down honest criticism
No one wants to contradict the boss.
Except for the people who revel in being disagreeable – and you don’t want them on your team.
4. …makes disagreement feel more confrontational than necessary
When an objection to an idea is expressed in a personal way, any pushback against it will feel personal too.
Soon, what should be a healthy dialog about the validity of an idea becomes a heated argument with people’s feelings getting hurt.
5. Refusing to say “I don’t like that” forces everyone to look for deeper, better reasons
When we remove “I don’t like that” from our leadership vocabulary, it needs to be replaced with something better. To do that, we need to ask ourselves questions like “why don’t I like it?”
This forces us to think more deeply about our feelings, the mission, the team, and where we’re heading. It can even help us recognize when our personal feelings are getting in the way.
Also, if the leader refuses to say “I don’t like it…”, team members won’t say it either. And they’ll have to think more deeply about the mission, too.
What To Say Instead
So, if “I don’t like it” is off the table, what is the best way to express disagreement with an idea?
Actually, there’s a world of possibilities, all of which force us to stay on mission, and look deeper at what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.
Instead of expressing disapproval, which tends to shut down debate and dry up new ideas, using questions tends to open everyone up to thinking better and deeper.
- How does this fit the mission?
- Is there something I’m not seeing here?
- How can we do this better?
- What parts of this can be turned into something great?
Questions like this are a great way of engaging the team instead of shutting them down, encouraging more ideas instead of drying them up, and keeping the mission front-and-center, where it belongs.
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