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To Avoid Being Bossy, Are You Being Unclear?

September 13th, 2017

meetingYou're the type of manager who doesn't want to come across as "bossy." That's good, but the way you do it may be leaving your team members confused about just what it is you want.

When you use phrases like "I kind of suspect" or "I'm not sure, but" and when you toss in qualifiers such as "hopefully" and "possibly" simply to avoid sounding controlling, you create doubt about your intentions. Worse, you may even cause your team to question whether you actually know what you want.

Writing in Fast Company, Judith Humphrey, the founder and Chief Creative Officer of a leadership communications firm, says, "If you want to sound like a capable speaker who knows what you’re talking about, don’t water down your message."

Admitting you are unsure of something is fine, but when you actually do know don't preface what you're about to say with the comment, "I'm not sure, but..." That and similar qualifiers do nothing, Humphrey says, "(to)
help you make a compelling case about a complicated topic, or let you underscore what you do know in a situation where there are unknowns."

Other throwaways not only don't advance your point, they can work against what you actually mean by sowing uncertainty. The best approach, she says, is to skip the qualifiers and just say what you mean.

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