Let me tell you about…..

You know that person, the one who when you ask them what time it is, they tell you about their watch, how it was made and why it’s the best watch EVER. They can be exhausting to deal with and yet they have great knowledge and all the data you need to back up their recommendation. So how do you find the right balance between too much information and too little?

Recognize that if someone is giving you more information than you want to hear it could be for a couple of reasons. First, it might be their style to be overly analytical and want to have all the data first. Second, they could have been taught to bring everything to the table in previous situations. Third, they lack confidence so they will give you everything to make sure they didn’t miss anything.

Here are 5 tips to help you manage the information flow:

  1. Set boundaries: Ask the person for their top 2 reasons, their biggest concern, their top 3 picks, one example, or give them 3 minutes to make their case. Let it be clear that everyone will have a chance to speak up and you are going to enforce full participation and the limits.
  2. Be willing to listen for a minute or two: The person has information to share and it may give you new insights or a different perspective. Take a couple of minutes to let them share, within boundaries.
  3. Ask for the backup information in an email: Ask them to give you a summary and send you the backup in an email. This gives you the highlights, the details and let’s them share what they have gathered.
  4. Redirect the conversation: If they keep wanting to go too deep into details you can say “That’s great information, however we need to focus on what steps to take right now.” Ask them to hold that information so other ideas can be shared. Make sure you get back to them.
  5. Allocate time for detail discussions: Set aside time for discussion on background, risks, or possible alternatives where they can share more.

The better you get at managing the flow of information the better communicator you become. It’s important for people to be heard. You want to share your perspective which means you must let others share theirs. Being assertive gives you the opportunity to get all the information out on the table in a way that respects everyone’s input and perspective. Giving everyone a voice gets the best ideas on the table and engages the entire team.

Next time someone says, “I’m glad you asked, let me tell you about ….”. You can calmly respond with “I’d love to hear the whole story later, right now I need your top recommendation. We can discuss the details as we fine tune our solution.” They will feel valued and you will stay in control of your time.


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