Don’t Be Too Nice

There’s a discussion going on, Alice just described a very interesting solution to the problem at hand. You thought that things will wrap up now, but Bob has an idea as well. Of course that you let him start talking – everyone on the team value his opinion, and he usually has great inputs.

But, a minute into it you’re sure that Bob’s idea is completely missing an important point. Maybe he’s talking about a solution that you already assessed and realized doesn’t work in some edge cases. Or maybe it’s simply something that he’s not very experienced in and you’re 100% sure he’s missing information and is unaware he’s going against some best practices.

Do you let him go on for 5 more minutes? Do you “entertain” his thoughts? While that might be the “nice” thing to do, is it really the best use of everyone’s time?

No. Don’t be so “Nice”.

Here in Israel we’re known for Chutzpah, and in situations like these it’s the best. This isn’t to say you should be rude, dismissive or offensive. I’m quite certain no one I’ve worked with would say that I’m rude or unpleasant. Never that – teams need trust and respect to operate.

Yet, there’s a difference between being rude and assertively pointing out that something has already been discussed, or is missing a key element. The whole team shouldn’t sit and listen just so everyone can get the satisfaction of having spoken.

Discussions should have a goal. And when a new sub-talk is started during a discussion that’s not going to get help getting to that goal, you should cut it short, right then and there.

I’ve recommended clients before to agree on protocols for not being overly nice. It should be the expected norm. I wouldn’t want to find out in retrospect that I had dragged on 5 people on a tangent.

Politely yet assertively state that you believe this is futile talk and why. Communication isn’t just being nice all the time, it’s also about efficacy.

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