Sunday, March 23, 2008

That's Interesting - Tell Me More

By Pamela Jett

Did you know that nearly one-quarter of U.S. employees (according to a recent Gallup Management Journal survey) would fire their bosses if given an opportunity to do so? Yikes! The reason these employees would opt to fire their boss is because they feel “disengaged” and “disconnected” at work.

Communication is the tool by which leaders, managers, and supervisors can create a work environment in which individuals feel valued, connected and actively engaged. In fact, communication is really the only tool to build relationships leaders possess. As such, leaders would be well served to use communication to strengthen as opposed to sabotage professional relationships.

There is a technique that all leaders can use to build relationship and connect. Peer to peer communication can benefit from this technique as well. This technique will help people feel like their opinion, ideas, and insights matter; which, in turn, helps people feel like they matter.

Great communicators are comfortable using a version of “that’s interesting – tell me more”. There are several ways in which this technique can be useful. And please remember, tone of voice and facial expression matter when using this technique.

1. If you are a leader and you notice an employee engaged in a behavior that seems, at first blush, to be inappropriate or wrong, you can either ask something defense producing (and thus counter-productive) such as “what are you doing?” or “why are you doing that?” or you can opt to be more savvy and try “that’s interesting, tell me more.” This frees the employee up to provide more information, without them becoming defensive. As a leader, you just might discover that what they are doing, although different than what you would do, is actually smart or innovative. Or, you might discover that they are engaged in something wrong. However, you can then provide correction and they are likely to be more open to the correction because you allowed them to explain themselves first.

2. If you ever need to buy yourself some time because you have been blindsided or caught off guard, “that’s interesting, tell me more” is a great way to gather more information and simultaneously buy yourself some time to gather your thoughts. And, you appear professional and composed in the process.

3. This technique also works when you suspect someone is being less than completely candid. By saying “that’s interesting, tell me more” you are sending someone a subtle signal that you are on to them and they will think twice about stretching the truth or being less than honest with you in the future.

These are just some of the scenarios in which “that’s interesting, tell me more” can be beneficial. For more communication tools, listen to Pamela’s Communicate with Confidence Audio CD program available at

Pamela Jett is a communication skills expert who believes that words matter. She works with organizations, associations and individuals who want to improve their communication skills for business and personal success. She can be reached toll free at 866.726.5388 or at her website .

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