Not all financial advisors are created equal. Nor are their fees. The issue that you may need to discuss with your advisor is how they receive their fees and how that may affect whether they lean toward serving your best needs or theirs.
Are you aware that many advisors are not required to make the choice that is most financially beneficial to you? Want to know if yours is? Ask whether they are following the fiduciary standard or the suitability standard. Find that tough to ask? There’s that sticky stuff we feel around money.
Let’s start from the beginning.
Many advisors at brokerage firms are paid commissions to sell you products that the firm makes money from.
Some of these advisors are good. Unfortunately, many are just good sales people whose advice is influenced the commissions they get paid.
What makes an advisor money may not be the best choice for you. It may cost you more to buy a product that is no better for you than one that would leave more money in your account (for college, retirement or whatever you are saving for).
You need to ask your advisor which standard they are operating under—fiduciary or suitability. The question might feel to them or you like an accusation because money seems to do that to questions. This is a very important question to get comfortable asking.
The fiduciary standard for Registered Investment Advisors (RIA), or an ERISA appointed Fiduciary, requires that the advisor put your needs ahead of theirs. The fiduciary standard requires that you hear about lower-fee options, if the lower-fee product is of equal quality. Advisors who are fiduciaries must:
Put the client’s best interest first.
Act with prudence; that is, with the skill, diligence and good judgment of a professional.
Not mislead clients; provide full and fair disclosure of all important facts.
Avoid conflicts of interest. And if conflicts are unavoidable, they must fully disclose and fairly manage in the client’s favor.
Broker dealers, insurance salespersons or any other financial company advisors are required to apply a suitability standard.
They must know you and your financial situation.
They must recommend products that are suitable for your situation.
They can sell you products that result in them receiving a higher commissionthan for a comparable product.
If you’re not comfortable asking about fees and professional standards, you could lose a lot of money. The higher fees you pay may be invisible today, but result in dramatically less compounding over the time you own the stock, bonds, or other investment vehicles. Your discomfort may cause your portfolio to be worth thousands, or tens or hundreds of thousands less than it could be.
The other question you need to be able to ask is whether your advisors is fee only or fee based.
Fee-only advisors (look for RIA or ERISA) don’t sell products, don’t accept commissions and operate as fiduciaries.*
Fee-based advisors can sell you investment products for commission.
Again, discomfort in asking questions can cost you way too much!
Watch an interview at the end of this article that I did with Gavin Morrisey about fees you may be paying your advisor that benefit him/her more than you—and what you can do.
Gavin is former Senior Vice President, Wealth Management at Commonwealth Financial Network and now managing partner at Financial Strategy Associates, a financial services firm in Needham, MA. He and his firm are independent, fee only advisors who will answer any and all your questions.
Check out John Oliver Fiduciary and The Retirement Challenge on You Tube!
Search the Web: There’s a lot of information how financial advisors get paid. In fact, that search led me to many interesting videos and articles.
Don’t avoid money or fee related conversations. If you want to talk with your advisor but feel uncomfortable, we can help you craft a conversation or email that is respectful and helps protect you.
Whether you’re an attorney, or other service professional thinking about raising fees, a dental office aware of the benefits for patients and your business if your team could talk more comfortably about costs, a parent who wishes he/she could talk with adult children about inheritance plans or family business, an adult child who fears approaching the conversation with parents for fear of seeming greedy, we can help you craft conversations that matter. Let us help you get more comfortable talking about money.
Kind of a P.S.
I know this article was long—and yet here’s more. More reasons to be wary. For those of you who have the bandwidth to keep going:
When I was doing research for this article, I came across these powerful and disturbing information-articles that highlighted kickbacks, contests, incentives for advisors. Here is just one of them. The bold is my emphasis.
From CNBC confessions from financial advisors Friday, 20 Jun 2014
Most investors know their financial advisors take a percentage for managing their portfolios, but they probably didn’t know the mutual fund industry is also giving these advisors commission for pushing specific equity mutual funds, unbeknownst to investors.
I’m not talking about front-end load fees. I’m referring to commissions and bonuses that financial planners get after they put their clients into these funds.
The industry and SEC call these payments “commission” but in reality, they are a “kickback” or “incentive” for financial planners to push specific equity funds, even if they are not in their client’s best interest. This payment structure raises ethical and legality concerns on whose interest is being served: the financial planner or the client.
Even more disconcerting, most investors don’t know this is happening.
I’ve seen how this works following two decades of working on Wall Street for well-known brokerage firms. This payment structure to financial planners is hidden behind a smokescreen that is covered by layers of payments through different sources. First to the brokerage houses, then to the brokers.
This hidden-fee structure was addressed in the Dodd-Frank reforms, which went into effect on January 1, 2014. Under Dodd-Frank, disclosures for “commission” or “kick-back fees” are now required for pension and 401k retirement accounts, but accounts that aren’t regulated by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act were excluded from the new law.
There are solid strategic reasons to ask questions. A few examples:
Questions help you shift conversational gears. They confirm that you, and whomever you’re speaking with, share enough information or understanding to move on.
Questions encourage the speaker to stop wandering and focus on what’s important.
Questions can help you get reengaged in a conversation that feels boring. They can help you resist an impulse to start lecturing or acting on an untested assumption.
When you’re ready to shift gears it’s important to be sure all parties feel they’re understood.
One of the reasons so many conversations loop back to feelings or data already covered—a prime reason for boredom and frustration—is a feeling that the other person doesn’t really understand your position. Ask questions to keep the conversation moving forward:
Is there something you’re saying that you’d like to be sure I understand? I’ll tell you what I heard and you can let me know if I’ve got what you’re saying.
Would it be helpful for me to summarize the points I think are important? I don’t want to keep going if we don’t understand each other.
Any part of what I said that you’d like to ask a question about? Or conversely: Can I ask you a couple of specific questions to be certain I understand what you think is important?
Questions can focus the conversation on what’s important.
Conversations have a tendency to wander unless at least one person keeps bringing attention to (talking or asking about) focusing on the important aspects. Questions are a way to help the other person focus:
Is there a specific part of what you said that you’d like to underline for me?
I have a couple of specific questions, is this a good time to ask them?
Is this a good time to summarize what I’ve heard to be sure I’ve got it?
Questions can help you refocus when you’re bored or even when you’re tired of taking the high road and are tempted to just join the other person in pushing your opinion without listening.
Formulating a question encourages you to strategize about how to influence the conversation to get focused, get shorter, or to lean in a direction that is more interesting to you. Questions engage your thinking brain and can help quiet your emotional brain—boredom is an emotional state and impulsive interruptions reflect low emotional regulation.
I’d be interested in how what you’re saying might affect how we relate to current clients?
Is there a way we can make practical use of this data?
What do you think would be the potential timing, if we were to introduce this idea to our teams? I find I’m worried about diminishing our focus on …
The impact of all these questions is based you being truly curious. Questions that are disguised statements—I.e., I think… don’t you agree?—are typically nowhere near as effective in influencing a conversation. Looking for an aspect of the conversation that truly sparks your curiosity may take effort, but can pay big rewards in increased loyalty and creativity of team members, clients who stick with you, and a wider network of people who trust you are someone who listens well.
Questions also let you discover small, important tweaks that can improve you services, products, and client satisfaction. More on this in a future article.
Asking questions can be efficient and respectful. You can move conversations along, while helping your conversation partner feel good about you. Being conversationally efficient, while being respectful isn’t easy, but it is something you can learn. Having difficult conversations can be easier when you know how to ask good questions.
If you’d like to learn how to craft questions and how to ask curious questions more often, why not call or email us? Increasing your positive connection with your team may be just a few question marks away.
Don’t interrupt. It’s obvious; we know. Still it’s very difficult. I speak from personal experience—after decades of paying attention to how important it is to wait until the other person is finished, I often cut them off anyway. I find it especially difficult to remember around friends and family.
According to Deborah Tannen, the linguist and author, some of us—me included—have a “high involvement” communication style. We “overlap” the other person’s speech. This can work—if the person you’re talking with has a similar style. And if what they’re talking about is more informational than deeply emotional.
Others have a “high considerateness” style. These people generally seek more clear pauses and want more order to the conversation.
Talking when you should be listening. Teaching when learning would serve you better.
In most cases it would be more respectful and helpful if I listened, instead of talked and learned, instead of tried to teach.
Why do we interrupt?
It can be helpful to identify what causes your interruptions:
•Are you trying to be supportive? To show you understand what the speaker is saying?
•Are you feeling crunched for time? Trying to move the conversation along?
•Are you more interested in sharing what you know rather than learning?
•Are you trying to show your expertise? Prove something?
•Are you worried that you’ll forget what you were going to say, if you wait until the other person is finished speaking?
Some things to try:
1. Notice when you interrupt
When you cut someone off, stop (even mid-sentence) and say something like: “sorry; I really want to hear what you have to say.” (This new habit will take time to develop and some courage.)
2. Enlist family or friends to help
Ask people you trust to respectfully remind you when you’ve cut them off. Ask for a do-over.
3. Create a cue to remind yourself
Sometimes sticky notes can help-in your car, on your bathroom mirror, at your desk at work. Find a word or phrase that you’ll be comfortable with others seeing—maybe “listen” or “pause.”
4. Track your progress
Initially just notice and count the number of times each day that you interrupt someone.
After a week or so, set a realistic goal and acknowledge your progress.
Some people find that self-acknowledgment works even better coupled with a reward.
When we click off or tune out before we’re sure we’ve heard and understand the speaker’s entire message, we cut ourselves off from some potentially useful information or insights. And, interrupting is not only disrespectful to the person being interrupted, but hurts you as the leader or manager. Sure, some of your team may be thick-skinned and more Teflon like. Others, though, will be put off and therefore less productive, loyal, or creative. Call or email us if you want to increase your positive connection with your team or just plain want to improve your listening skills.
Continuing on our recent theme of listening: here’s another strategy that is easy to implement and can make a big difference. You have probably heard the term “Active Listening”—repeating key pieces of a talker’s message to confirm you are listening and understand. Reflective Listening is similar but adds a dose of curiosity and mindfulness. This higher-quality listening can save time, prevent future misunderstandings or mistakes, and create stronger team loyalty.
So what is reflective listening?
When you’re reflectively listening, you’re seeking to understand a speaker’s thought or idea, then offering their idea back in your own words to confirm you’ve understood correctly. You also try to imagine and reflect back what’s beneath their words—to reflect what the speaker is feeling as well as thinking.
How to reflectively listen:
• After listening, use your own words to repeat key points you think the person was attempting to make.
• Check with them to be certain you’ve heard them correctly.
• If they explain that you don’t quite have it, repeat back your corrected understanding.
• Share your impressions of what seems to feel emotionally important to them.
• “I hear that you are concerned about my suggestion that we shut our doors to reduce distractions. It’s clear this is very important to you.”
• “It sounds to me like you are frustrated about my response this past week.”
• “Let me reflect what I heard. You think we could generate revenue by adding a service to our estimate process. You have an idea how this could be simple and not take much time. You haven’t nailed down the details yet, but you’d like my initial thoughts to help guide your next steps.”
“I also hear that you are worried your idea will be rejected because you don’t have the details spelled out.”
Caveat: Too busy?
The time you spend listening and reflecting will avoid wasting time sorting out misunderstandings and missteps after the fact.
It’s this easy:
• Take a breath and pay attention to quickly confirm any main points or ideas.
• Deliberately scan and confirm each key concept.
• Keep your review and reflections short and efficient. Avoid long monologues, open-ended questions, and new topics.
Recall Practice Initially, you can try recall sessions to practice reflecting. (adapted from a book-in-progress that Jay and I are working on)
If you can’t find time to practice in real-time during your work day, sitting at your desk, or on your drive home, take time to think through a conversation you had during the day. Then reflect out loud what you didn’t feel like you had time to say on the spot.
With a bit of practice, you will be able to reflectively listen without appreciably slowing down conversations—you’ll save misstep-time with a minimal investment in reflecting-time.
• “Let me be sure I understand. You are planning to call the client and set up a meeting to talk about the problem, but you are worried that we don’t really have a good path to correct the issue.”
• “Am I hearing concern that you will be blamed?”
If no examples come to mind, you might ask yourself one of these questions to stimulate reflections:
• What did I slide over that might be worth thinking about or revisiting? • What did she say that I might not be positive I heard fully? • What was the emotional tone of the conversation? • Did I really understand what was important to them?
Your awareness will be enhanced by just considering questions—eventually you will tend to notice those things you have asked yourself questions about.
When you are trying to strengthen a relationship, reflecting deeper messages or emotions can communicate that you respect the speaker and value their ideas. Email or call 978-446-9600 if you want to save time avoiding missteps, create a stronger connection with your team, build a more fun and interesting place to work, learn how to enhance your relationships at work (and as a natural byproduct with family and friends).
Of the relationship-enhancing skills our clients practice getting better at, listening is often the one that makes the biggest difference—whether you’re trying to acquire or keep a client, solve a problem, or build a culture of productivity and autonomy.
Listening strategy number one—Listen more than you talk.
• If you understand what motivates people, you will understand how to more effectively influence them. You get that information by listening.
• People are more likely to listen carefully to you, if they know you have listened carefully to them.
• Everyone likes to be listened to. So listen and people will feel more positive, and that makes them more productive and open to new ideas.
• People virtually never get bored when they’re talking about themselves. In a conversation where you are listening to them, they will tend to remember you as interesting. And interesting makes you memorable.
But aren’t people paying to get my expertise; my answers to professional questions? Don’t they care if I’m well informed and knowledgeable? Yes, and:
• Yes, they are. And they can hear you best after they’re sure you understand them and what they’re concerned about. After they are convinced you respect and even care about them as individuals.
• Rebalancing your talking to listening ratio opens the door to people being able to hear your professional guidance.
But what if I’m getting bored?
• First remind yourself that this is about them not you. Then:
• Try asking a question. A truly curious question is a great demonstration that you’re listening. So ask and then listen some more.
What if they have misunderstood something and I need to correct it?
• Wait for them to stop talking—be certain it is a stop not just a pause.
• Then give them a quick update and ask if they want to know more about it. If they don’t, listen some more.
What if they ask a question?
• Give a brief answer.
Know that the odds are your brief answer is too long for them. Try making one quick point and ask if that answers their question.
The odds are also great that they didn’t make their real question clear or you misunderstood it to start with.
Primarily you need to remind yourself that a question shouldn’t change the ratio of listening to talking.
A heads up:
• Most people badly misjudge how much of the time they talk versus listen. Most men have a tendency to both talk more and judge their ratio of talk to listening more poorly than most women.
• Consciously try to listen twice as much as you talk. If in doubt, you’re probably talking too much.
• Put a reminder in front of you.
“Listen more!” is one possibility.
“What subtle information did you miss?” Might tweak your awareness to listen more.
“Ask curious questions.” Is another possibility.
“Listened lately?” is a bit more in your face.
• Use your phone’s stopwatch function to track when you’re talking—start this with a trusted colleague or in team meetings and tell everyone what you’re doing. Your activity will remind everyone to only say what’s important, and to listen! Tracking any behavior tends to keep it more front and center in your mind.
You can virtually never get into trouble listening.
Want to be better than just not getting in trouble? Listen even some more. Our clients have told us that the active practice they get in meetings with us, as well as being accountable, has helped vastly increased their listening skills—resulting in more clients, more satisfaction among their team, and more pleasure for them going to work each day.
Call or email us if you think it would be useful to move your communication skills forward.
Delivering bad news or pointing out maladaptive habits isn’t easy, even if you think the employee may have an idea of what’s coming. Assuming you’re both on the same side of the table sharing a common goal can make difficult conversations easier.
Your job is to ask good questions, to find ways to help your key employees identify what’s working well, where they want to go in their careers, which skills they might like to pursue, etc. Your questions are designed to facilitate buy in, give them an opportunity to critique their own performance and to offer information first. Your questions also give you better information to develop a strategic approach to the next phase of the conversation.
The questions below are worded for an annual review: (You can, of course, tweak the time line if it’s different). We recommend reviews much more often to keep tabs on how your team members are feeling and what they’re thinking.
Usually, you’d give these questions in advance so there’s time for them to think about them and write out answers.
1) What professional accomplishments of yours do we need to remember from last year? Please include items that might not have been noticed.
2) Were there professional skills you were able to improve on last year? Did you receive training or help from any member of the team? Again, please be as specific as possible. What skills do you want to work on this year?
3) Were there projects or tasks that you had the freedom and responsibility to do in the way you thought best? Please think of both ongoing and one-time projects you did and describe how much independence, if any, that you had.
4) What do you do well professionally, enjoy doing, do easily, get compliments on, etc.? I’d be particularly interested in things you do well that I don’t know about.
5) Are there things about your work that give you real pleasure or make you feel you’re making a difference?
6) What could I be asking that seems important for your success here?
The answers are important, but building a process of open, corrective conversations with your employees is just as important. And slowing down to listen to their struggles and goals is the only way to create effective plans for future growth.
It seems clear to us that the next area of innovation is a return to one of the oldest of human endeavors—influencing valuable people to join you in pursuit of a common goal.
Yes, there are impressive technological advances still in the pipeline, let alone in the imagination of developers and entrepreneurs. Our relationship to healthcare and the wider world community will continue to change—although forward or backward can be debated. Cars will soon drive us, houses will stay one step ahead of our commands, and clothes will do more than warm and adorn us. Additional services that we hadn’t even imagined were necessary will become the norm.
But none of these potential advances, or other undreamed of ones, will proceed along their most effective paths unless you—the current and future leaders—are able to attract and nurture individuals and the teams they form. The brightest, most creative, most dedicated producers of value will only join your enterprise if you are genuinely able to step away from a self-centered approach to leadership and become a catalyst who assists them reach their goals and dreams. They will carry your dreams on their shoulders as they strive to achieve their own ambitions.
We see too many business leaders impatiently push instead of quietly influencing, value loyalty over creativity, or act like their vision is the only one that counts. Even leaders who are sensitive to the feelings of their employees seem to forget at times that their enterprises will only flourish if individuals are encouraged to thrive in their careers, lives, and dreams.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks for most leaders is an inflated sense of their own ability to master work relationships and influence important people. How are you doing? If you see no weaknesses in your approach to team members, a caution flag should go up. If you recognize an area that could use upgrading and you haven’t set aside time to work on improving it, then you are giving an advantage to your competitors every time you attempt to attract or keep a major contributor.
A first step is to ask yourself questions, and take time to consider the answers:
•How am I doing?
•What are other people doing better?
•What am I avoiding?
•What habit should I be mastering?
•What are my priorities?
•Who do I wish I could entice to work for me?
The next step is to make a plan for addressing your weakness. It’s difficult to recognize your own failings, because they will tend to sit in your blind spot. Even if you think you can see them, they may be resistive to change because of other habits or attitudes you have—which can hide behind more obvious shortcomings.
Professional athletes depend on feedback from their coaches to see their lapses and improve their game. The best presenters and salespeople seek new ideas and analysis from specialty coaches. Musicians, actors, writers and so many others regularly request input from an experienced masters. Are you getting the feedback you need to improve your game? Arrange a strategy session today to explore how coaching can improve your ability to attract and retain high performing employees.
Most likely your natural tendency is to sidestep uncomfortable emotions, painful physical sensations, cognitive challenges and/or social exertion. But those discomforts are often signals that you’re pushing yourself into areas of positive growth with a level of intensity that will lead to actual progress.
In endurance sports this discomfort is called suffering. Some of that suffering comes from the physical pain that your body generates as you approach the limits of your current capability. As you strain, your muscles generate waste and collect minor tears. After your effort is completed, the tears will signal the healing forces to rebuild with additional capacity to avoid future tears.
We now understand that some—or perhaps much—of the pain sensation is also generated by the fail-safe concerns of our brain. It senses that, if we continue to do what we’re doing, we risk exceeding our body’s abilities to intake oxygen, deliver fuel, and clear out waste materials. The pain sensation is an alert that we should shut off our effort to preserve crucial blood flow to our brains. The problem is that this warning comes earlier than necessary and, if we heed it too soon, it inhibits us from our highest level of effort and eventually diminishes our maximum performance.
In non-physical areas, your brain also protects you from danger with early and overblown warnings about threats. It flashes discomfort and pain signals when there are opportunities for growth. For instance, when there is a possibility that you will need to give up an established pattern of behavior in order to make a change or challenge your comfort zone.
Each time you strive to stop an old habit or start a new one, you will likely come face to face with some level of discomfort—some minor “tear” in your routine. In order to change you will need to ignore the easy path of following your old habit and push against your discomfort. You may need to welcome the experience of social embarrassment and confront someone, push against the call of a sweet treat in order to change your eating habits, get to a gym class when you’re feeling hollow and lethargic, or resist the pull of something more entertaining when you should be exercising or working on a project.
How much discomfort are you willing to push through? If the answer is none, then you aren’t likely to change. Just a little bit? You may make a bit of progress. A few brave souls will answer in the affirmative when they ask themselves, “Am I willing to suffer for a significant increase in my performance?”
Choosing to suffer isn’t complex or difficult, but it also isn’t easy. And we are not suggesting that there is any significant value in suffering for suffering sake. Given that you will face feelings of discomfort many times a day, and will on occasion suffer, you should know that you will suffer less if you welcome discomfort as a necessary ingredient in improving your performance.
There is suffering that leads to no valuable end. There is suffering that we might wish to avoid, but which leads to healing. And there is suffering that is simply the best pathway to enhanced performance. Avoid that discomfort and you will keep doing what you have always done. Embrace it and you will dare to push yourself enough to cause your body, emotions or mind to gain increased capacity.
In growing your business, a healthier life, or deeper relationships you will benefit from having effective strategies to help you deal with discomfort and gain the maximum value from any investment you make in suffering. Don’t suffer needlessly. But also don’t avoid opportunities to grow and feel significant satisfaction and benefits from your efforts. We can help you invest your energy wisely.
Despite the common advice of many business coaches, praise can demotivate your team and make them skeptical. Praise, like sweeteners, needs to come in measured amounts and not taste artificial.
People do experience meaning and satisfaction when they hear those they respect value their contributions. But it doesn’t it follow that we should therefore lavish praise on members of our teams.
Research points out that too much or insincere praise creates less than desirable results. This appears to be true both at work and with our families. Overdone or generalized praise is quickly dismissed as worth little. If everything is “great”, then you’re not believable. Overusing expressions like “Amazing!” “Wow Experience!” “Great Job!” all lead other people to feel that your praise is worth less.
Do you understand what I’m saying? Great job! You’re an amazing reader! Something certainly smells rotten in my praise.
To make praise effective it needs to be sincere, specific and address the actual work or effort. And it needs to come in believable doses.
One clear way to avoid hyperbole and misunderstandings is to share acknowledgements instead of praise. They’re similar, but acknowledgements make a specific statement about the results of a person’s actions. They don’t give a label of good or great. They don’t base an evaluation on your judgment of the person. Acknowledgements speak about the effect of a person’s activities.
For good work that is a tad above a person’s normal performance levels or when a team member finally shows continuity over a period of time try something like:
“I noticed your effort today produced results.”
“I notice your quality is staying higher.”
“I noticed you are trying that approach we talked about.”
“You put some real effort into getting that job done on time. Thank you.”
“Having the reports on time has been helpful.”
Save praise for exceptional situations—and still consider using an acknowledgement instead. If you’re going to fall back on praise, keep it believable and use it only for above average work. Stick with simple acknowledgements for basic work done well.
Developing new leadership and managerial habits takes specific understanding and practice. We can help you:
Learn how to acknowledge and praise wisely
Ask curious questions
Reward for effort, strategy and progress
And, as a bonus, a healthy dose of acknowledgements and praise from a coach will help you implement habits that will increase your and your team’s performance and satisfaction. Call or email today if you want to set up a time to consider what habits will bring the most leverage to changing your business and your life.
I want to share two skills that are simple but take practice. We teach these to our clients to help them accomplish more and have fewer stressful debates with their team, clients—and even family members. If you are seeking more productivity, higher morale and more straightforward interactions, then give these a try.
When someone makes a statement that we disagree with, the most common response is to either ignore what they said or respond with all the reasons we don’t agree. There is a better way. Let me use an example I dealt with last month to illustrate what didn’t go well:
During a particularly hectic time at the company, Dave, the HR manager told John, his supervisor and our client—“We need to meet for 10-15 minutes each morning for the next couple of weeks to discuss the specific hires you’re looking for and possible ways to deal with the two employees who are under-performing.
John retorted, “No way! I can’t meet every day! I just don’t have the time.”
When John asked me for ideas about how to handle it better, I asked what he objected to. He said, “It’s ridiculous to think Dave and I can or need to meet every day.”
I asked what, if anything that Dave said that he had agreed with. He thought for a moment and said, “It makes sense that Dave understands the kind of person and attributes I’m looking for in the new employees.” He concurred that he wanted to have major input on how to document the under-performing employees because they probably would need to be terminated.
If you agree, say so. Acknowledge the places of agreement.
If John wanted to change Dave’s suggestion and also give him credit for suggesting a solution instead of just waiting for a problem to develop, John could have said, “I agree that it would be a good idea for us to talk about the new hires and the documentation process.”
You don’t need to agree with everything said. Team members will be encouraged to develop critical thinking skills by even partial agreement. So say out loud what you agree with.
If you feel something was left out or needs to be altered, state your agreements first and then add to their thinking—build on their idea.
“I agree that it makes sense for us to meet; we need to talk about the new hires and what to do about the team members who are not performing. Because time is crunched, let’s meet twice next week and then evaluate where we are.”
By finding something to agree with you defuse a lot of the debates that start around people defending their suggestions. If you can limit the defensiveness and the debate time, you keep things moving. You’ll be surprised how often the points you disagreed with get dropped and everybody’s happy.
Close: What you do-and say-matters. If you want your team to run more smoothly, think for themselves and make good decisions, consider calling or emailing us for ways to tweak your communication. Small changes can make a big difference—with team members, clients, and partners. And, as one of my clients who keeps building skills – and seeing better results – reminds me, “It just feels better.”