The Problem with... "Did you understand my instructions?"
  • In spoken language the word "yes" is a respectful cue indicating a polite conversation response, simple signifying the taking of turns between two people. This word provides no indication of one person's grasp of the scope or importance of the task or question in the conversation.
The Bottom Line
  • "Do you think you can follow the instructions I just gave you?"
The Solution
  • A power differential (between supervisors and direct reports, for example) often contribute to an environment that prompts a “yes” as a response. A polite and respectful “yes” is often the only response expected.
  • "Can you get this done?"
  • Our workshop participants learn how to change “Can you get this done?” into more effective questions that prompt a constructive response that confirm the receiver’s grasp of the scope or importance of the task.
  • "How long do you think this will take you to complete?"
  • "What do you think will be the most difficult part of this assignment?"
  • Effective communication requires a dialogue, not simply a one directional “yes” prompt. Just like giving objects in the physical world, the speaker delivering information should never be satisfied until there is evidence that the listener has fully grasped the scope or importance of the information. 
  • The effective communicator actively looks for feedback indicating grasping, not just a simple and respectful (and ineffective) “yes” response.
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Ineffective communicators often ask questions that prompt a "yes" response.
Raising the Bar on Communication to a Higher Standard
"Results Oriented Communication"
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