Someone extending a hand to help someone

Tell People What You Need

collaboration management project leadership Feb 05, 2022

Stand up (slowly) and speak up (gently), or shut up.  

Leadership requires us to cooperate with others and this is, obviously, a two-way street.  You must give in order to get.  This is true in building Technical CONOPS and in every other endeavor that involves working closely with people.

And when you move from being a manager who gets people to cooperate, to becoming a leader who collaborates, you must watch for trends and actions that adversely impact that collaboration:  You may find that people are frustrating you. Disappointing you.

If this has been going on for a long time and in all walks of your life: family, job, hobbies, neighborhood or church, you need to act on it.  You will need to ask for help.

Do you wish people would respect you more? Understand you better?

Do you need more time to yourself? Or maybe you need less time to yourself because you are lonely.

Do you need more attention from a friend or lover, because you feel isolated or shut out? Or do you need less attention from them because you feel smothered?

Do you want more guidance and coaching from a boss? Or do you want less help and more autonomy in doing your job?

Do you wish you had a magic way to make people “get it”, to cause people to do what you need them to do? Then here is the magic trick. Lean in closely. Here is the secret: JUST SAY IT.

It is often that easy to get others to do what you want. Just tell them. No beating around the bush, no mincing words. Just smile, be reasonably diplomatic if you can, and tell them what you need and why.

The important thing is to speak up, even if you do not say it exactly right. Trust me - - -  you’ll get better at it the more you practice.  But why does this openness actually work?

Because most people want to be helpful. They like to please others. Good Samaritans abound. Most likely, your friends and relatives and business associates are polite to other people.

They probably would not mind being nicer to you. But all too often they do not know what to do. There are no mind-readers in the real world. You must tell them.

Start the conversation any way you like.

- I have a tiny favor to ask…

- Could ask you to do something for me…

- I have an odd request…

To correct someone else’s behavior toward you, use the magic phrase: When you [do something], I feel [a certain way]. Here are two common examples:

- When you finish my sentences for me, I feel you are impatient with me. But I need the time to think when I am discussing things with people. Please be patient. You just think faster than I do.  (I have used this one several times.)

- When you change the subject immediately after I say something, I feel you are not really listening. I feel you are just using the time while I am talking to assemble your next statement. Please at least acknowledge what I have just said so I know you heard me.  Just saying "right" or got it" or "noted"  or "I understand" will do it.

If people keep ignoring you or interrupting you or . . . doing whatever to annoy you, you must ask yourself if you are helping cause the problem.

And if you have never told them how you feel or how you would like them to change their behavior (moved beyond your public positions on things, to your interests), you should not be at all surprised when they disappoint you. Doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result is one clinical definition of insanity.

So tell the people with whom you regularly interact (bosses, family members, friends, and others) exactly what you need them to do (or not do) to make your project/day/life go smoother with less drama and less frustration. Share your interests, not just your positions.  Otherwise do not complain about how you are being treated. 

And in the business world, keep a written record of your discussions with bosses, especially when you ask for support (in order to make something happen.  Otherwise, I have found that bosses sometimes get selective memory loss as to what they agreed to do/provide/change for me and my team.

Stand up (slowly) and speak up (gently), or shut up.



Get to know us a little better!

Join our free CONOPS mini training course no stings attached. 

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.