Dealing with indecisive coworkers (video transcript)

We are a consensus based culture.

So we make decisions by committee, and we wait until everyone is there and ready before we move forward. So the first thing, just a little tip that’s actually really valuable for everybody which is in asking your question, you said “why are we still going over this”?

So if the first tip I’m going to give you is don’t ever use the question why.

The brain processes associated with the question, “Why?” are defensive. We create story and rationalization and it’s a totally different in an MRI. It’s a totally different reaction to the question, “Why?” than if we ask other questions. So what is still left for us to determine? Where is your uncertainty coming from? What three things would we need to cover for you to be at the 80% confidence level with this decision? What risks are you thinking about that are keeping us behind?

Really what it’s about is true communication.

What’s happening with statements like “I’m not ready” or “you’re so slow” is you’re going back to that adversarial, negative assumption. The negative assumption in that case is that the person stalling or resisting or something like that. So this is a case where you just open yourself up, be really curious, never ask a “Why?” question, but try and figure out what’s going on for them. What’s making them nervous?

The other thing that you can do a lot is, there’s lots of great tools out there for teams to help people understand where they fall on the normal curve on certain things. And I find often once a person learns that they’re kind of way out on the normal curve and how much confidence they need or certainty they need to move forward. Then you can talk about, “okay, how do we get you to 80%?” Or “how do we get you to 90%?” So try some of those things.

Really, it’s so much about asking the questions in a way that’s not going to create defensiveness and truly listening to the answer. It’s possible that you are actually as far out the other end of the normal curve and you are trying to make a decision in haste and it may be just as important for you to be open to the thought that there’s three stakeholders that haven’t been considered yet. Or there are data that would be important in making this decision well.

So try some of those things and see if that helps.

More on this

3 Forms of Indecisiveness

5 Ways to make your team more decisive

How do I deal with a teammate who is indecisive?