When we order steak, coffee, spirits or eggs, we’re asked how we want them prepared and delivered. Do we want it with milk? Sugar? Rare? Medium? Rocks? Neat? Sunny side up? Over easy? Sides?
Why isn’t it so when we want/need information? And I’m not talking about good news. (There appears to be a universal preference for good news to be delivered straight up, followed shortly by a smattering of details).
I’m talking about information we won’t find pleasant, enjoyable, or in line with our hopes or views.
I suspect if we ask people how they like information delivered, they’ll universally respond with ‘just tell me’.
However, if we don’t ask but listen instead to how they respond and the questions they ask, they’ll tell you for next time.
People obliquely ask for information (in different times and situations) in different ways.
Here are some of the thoughts I use to help me deliver information so the receiver hears what I need them to hear. First I listen to what they say.
Straight up – don’t embellish. “Just the facts”
With a twist – give me something I can use to explain it away
Sunny side up – I only want good news
Nothing for me – it doesn’t matter what you say I won’t hear you unless you say what I want to hear
I’ve got a few allergies – there are some information and facts I just can’t tolerate
Send it back – give me what I want, facts are interpretable, interpret them as I want them
Fully loaded – give me everything, don’t hold back
Rare – don’t give me too much detail, just do it quickly and broadly
Buffet – give me lots of information and a story I can use to pick the bits I want
In the end, we have to work out how our listener wants information and then decide whether we’re willing or able to deliver it that way. It’s very hard and often demoralising when you can’t deliver information the way the receiver requires.
Think about it, perhaps there are irreconcilable information communication differences you and your boss?
Perhaps you’ve been there and worked it out. I’d love to hear your story.