We all have expectations about situations we encounter. We expect our computer to function when we turn it on. We expect the barista to great us with a smile when taking our order. We expect our order at the drive-thru to be accurate. When there is a gap between what we expect and what really happened, we can get frustrated. And if we let it, that frustration can cause anger and upset. In the situations describing our computer, coffee and fast food order, there isn’t an opportunity to ask questions to bring alignment. In the situation between the manager and the staff giving input into a hiring decision, there is – if we are willing to make our expectations known.
By asking open ended questions, we will discover what the manager has in mind. Based on the example above, group members could have asked the manager how much their input would influence his decision. They could have asked what other factors would influence his decision. Expectations would be clearly defined.
You could then affirm what you heard by saying something like, “Our input will be given more consideration then the input you get from references, but not as much as your own opinion of the candidate. Is that correct?”
The manager can then confirm the accuracy of the statement and the discussion can come to a close.
If your understanding is not correct, the discussion will continue until everyone has a clear understanding of how the final candidate will be selected and how much influence group members will have in the decision. (No more gap between Expectation and Reality!)
- Have I shared my expectation with the other person? Use statements like: “I’m hoping we can come to agreement about the project time line.” “I’d like us to come to agreement about the next step in this process.” “I want to give everyone the opportunity to share their ideas, and then we will come to a conclusion about what action we need to take next.”
- Do I remain calm and focused during the conversation? Research shows there is a 97% likelihood that our demeanor will be matched by the other person. If we speak in a calm, relaxed manner, they will too. If we raise our voice, get angry and upset, in all likelihood they will, too.
- Am I willing to take responsibility for the outcome? It is easy to lay the blame for miscommunication on the other person. It is hard to take an honest look in the mirror and seek self improvement. Since the only control we have is over our own actions, taking 100% responsibility for the outcome will improve our communication skills.
The benefit? No more illusion. Communication will, in fact, have occurred.