As the Executive Director of an organization, my job is often times to say "yes" or "no" to project proposals. I try to support people in following their passion or things they are excited about, but sometimes, that can be hard. There are a lot of competing priorities and it's not always immediately clear to me how it could work within the resource constraints of time, people and money.
I always want to encourage my staff to be creative and thoughtful, so I reevaluated the way I approach these situations. One thing that stuck in my mind was the phrase "Say more about that?"
It sounds simple enough, right? I find that a lot of times, I'm inclined to agree with someone or want to say yes, but I don't understand what problem they are trying to solve or how their solution will work. By practicing reflective listening, where I both repeat back what I think I'm hearing and also try to draw out a longer explanation I find it can make it easier to see how the idea fits into the bigger picture or ways we can make it work.
At NOI, this has led to an amazing outpouring of great ideas from staff members at every level of the organization. We can't always do all the great ideas right away, but it makes it more likely to create an environment where creativity thrives.
So ask for more information, and see where the discussion takes you! It might lead you to a "yes".
How do you decide what to say yes to? Let us know in the comments on our blog.
Judith Freeman is co-founder and Executive Director of NOI.