How to End Conversations in a Timely Manner

An acquaintance said to me, “I need to talk to Calvin about his progress on a compliance report, but I procrastinate because conversations with Calvin are lengthy.” 

Another person reported, “When I attempt an in-depth discussion with Duane, I leave the meeting uncertain about whether we have understood each other.”

Do either of these examples sound familiar?  Juan Siliezar, writing in the Harvard Gazette, described a study by Adam Mastroianni, a Ph.D. student in Harvard’s Psychology Department which reported only two percent of conversations ended when both parties wanted them to end.

In almost half of the cases, conversations extended longer than both parties desired.  In a display of politeness, parties in two-person conversations appear to continue talking, not because they have more to say, but because they are unsure of the other’s intentions.  Persons said their conversations ended too soon in only about ten percent of the cases. 

Many discussions pose a dilemma.  Individuals are busy and wish to communicate efficiently but prolong conversations unnecessarily. 

How can you resolve this issue?  Try this.  When you believe you have what you need, say something like, “That sounds good to me.  Are you OK with it?”

How Declarative Statements Increase Influence

(Part 1 of 2 Parts)

While working on a project with a tight deadline, Jessica made a critical error and it did not seem to bother her too much.

When Emma, the team leader inquired, Jessica said, “It doesn’t matter all that much if we are late.  They don’t expect us to complete these projects on time anyway.”

“Jessica,” Emma explained, “the deadline is important.  I want you to correct the error and help get the project back on schedule because it will improve customer satisfaction and revenue.”

Emma used the pronoun “I” and the word “because” in a declarative statement to express her opinion about Jessica’s behavior.  This influence tactic is frequently used and can be quite effective.

However, I have observed that many influencers shy away from using “I” and prefer to substitute the pronoun “we.”  For example, “We need to do what we can to get back on schedule.”  The use of “we” by Emma would have made her expectation of Jessica far less clear.

Some influencers also leave out the word “because.”  Emma by including “because” explained the reason why the schedule was important.

Declarative statements that include both “I” and “because” increase the likelihood of influencing the behaviors of others.



Are You Aware of Your Manager’s Proclivities?

Amelia and Jayden, both leaders of high-performing teams, were having very different experiences with their new divisional manager (DM).

Jayden complained to Amelia, “I don’t know why the DM keeps asking for so many reports with such detail.  It takes a lot of my time.”

Amelia responded, “The DM is a detailed person.  I organize my team’s metrics into subheads and update him weekly.”

Amelia added, “I also learned that he is not interested in reviewing compliance reports.  He just expects my reports to pass muster.”

Jayden countered, “I insist that the DM review my reports because I know he will hold me accountable for any miss steps.”

While both were committed to the division’s mission, Amelia quickly figured out the DM’s work patterns and complied with them.  Jayden became frustrated because the DM did not operate the way he thought he should.

We know for sure that successful leaders are different, particularly on stylistic matters such as:  written or verbal presentations, spontaneous or regular updates, extensive detail or big-picture concepts, what interests them and how they make decisions.

Boss-staff relationships can be as complicated as the tax code.  Subordinates who develop meaningful work relationships with their managers hone in to their communication and decision-making proclivities.