Going to NO!

30 Mar

Recently in a meeting of managers we were discussing succession.  The discussion was flowing until a person who had been silent bluntly communicated his discontent with the ideas.  Although the meeting staggered on, he essentially killed the conversation.  Later, in a debriefing with a vice-president we discussed how some people seem to be hardwired to “go to NO”.

Ask yourself:  Do I go to NO?  We all do occasionally, but some people seem to be trapped in NO.  They become roadblocks to change and in positions of responsibility they essentially suppress the free flow of ideas.  Therefore they only hear what is safe for others to share with them, rendering them uninformed about what they don’t like – the very information needed to make good decisions.

What to do?  If you work for or with someone who quickly goes to NO, try to feed ideas to them in a context that is safer for them – because they react in a rapid, visceral manner and need time to consider ideas.  Short, carefully crafted memos can do this.

If such a person works for you, one-on-one feedback is essential to help them better accept new ideas.  You may suggest instead of saying NO (in one of it’s many versions) they try “interesting.”  This gives them a graceful way to slow the process that somehow elicits the NO behavior.

Any ideas out there?

Listen to an interview with John on Iowa Public Radio about Beyond Luck

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