"Don’t do what I said, do what I meant."

That's what most leaders and owners and bosses and customers want, isn't it?

We want employees who know the why, not just the details of the how. We want customer service people and partners and vendors who understand.

Which is what we get, at least until we encounter the first time that we're unpleasantly surprised. It's in that moment, when we demand a refund, or fire someone, or insist on rules being followed to the letter—that's when it all falls apart and stops being a relationship based on understanding and turns into one that's built on compliance to the rules.

If you want the people you work with to act with understanding, then you must trust them to use their best judgment, even when that means you didn't get exactly what you said you wanted. The failure is yours, because you didn't help people understand the reasoning. When you accept responsibility for that failure, when you educate instead of demand, you can gain the benefits of working with people who understand, instead of merely comply.

       
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