When I was a newbie DP I would often tip toe into the principal’s office with a question or to run a situation by my boss and ask for his advice. I really did tip-toe in, the hesitation I felt as a result of the stories I had in my head about how ‘I should know this by now’, ‘I’ve asked too many questions’, ‘He’ll be sorry he employed me’, ‘I knew I wasn’t ready to be a DP’.
The hesitation was real, but it was never caused by my boss. In fact, he had a great way of putting me at ease and dissolving my hesitation quickly. He’d see me coming in, put down whatever he was working on and begin our conversation with an invitation: “Tell me,” he’d say.
Linkedin Scott Olster writes that ‘When we start a conversation with ‘Tell me’ we give our conversation partner the space to share their views openly, free of language that may lead them in one direction or another’.
I’d add that the invitation of ‘Tell me’, offered with a genuine and positive intent, can help to clear the space of judgement and allows our conversation partner to drop some of their own judgemental fears and stories.
For those of us committed to being Invite and Inquire Leaders, ‘Tell me’ is a powerful tool, and as Olster suggests: An answer to a ‘tell me’ question could give you the kind of window into another person that can help build stronger relationships.