silence in interviewing

silence in interviewing - How to Handle Silence, the Worst...

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Unformatted text preview: How to Handle Silence, the Worst Kind of Feedback - Peter Bregman - Harvard Business Page I of 6 HARVARD '1? BUSINESS ‘ PUBLISHING JANUARY 20, 2010 (9:56 AM) Register today and save 20%“ off your first order! Details Peter Bre man On: Managing Yoursei , eadership Development, Communication How to Handle Silence, the Worst Kind of Feedback 1:38 PM Tuesday January 19, 2010 | Comments (13) Last week I shared the problem of Alex, a marketing consultant who was left in the dark when Sam, a prospective client, didn't call him back. My suggestion to Alex was to reach out to Sam once and then let it go. In that situation Alex and Sam didn‘t know each other well (they had met once). Everyone knows in a sales situation that there‘s a strong chance he may not hear back from a prospect. But what if Sam and Alex had done lots of work together? Maybe they're colleagues. 0r friends even. What ifletting go is not simple but simply too hard. maybe even emotionally impossible? What it Alex can't stop thinking about it? First, you might wonder. what's wrong with Alex that he can't st0p thinking about it? Grow up. right? "Silence," Alex later told me, "is the worst, most damaging kind of feedback." Effective feedback is clear and specific. Silence is ambiguous and generic. it could mean anything. "We don't know why the other person is silent," Alex continued, "and we inevitably go straight to our biggest insecurities." Why do we go to our insecurities? Because we know that people tend to shy away from communicating negative messages. If someone hasn’t called us, we think to ourselves, it must be that she doesn't want to communicate something negative to us. Or she simply wants us to stop bothering her and go away. Also. we figure. it the person wanted to work with us, itwould be in her interest to let us know m she would have called. So, when we don't geta response from someone, we imagine one, and it sounds something like this: "Terriblejob you did the other day. And, oh. by the way, I don't like you very much." Which, of course, is not usually what the other person wants to communicate. Eiut misunderstandings rarely happen in words. they happen in the gap between the words. And the longerthe gap, the more room for misunderstanding. Here's what makes the problem difficult to ignore: it happens all the time between people who have to continue working together. A manager and an employee An employee and an internal client. Two people from different departments working on a project together. And here's what makes the problem so pernicious: Uncertainty. We don‘t know the other person thinks we did a bad job. We don't know the other person doesn‘t like us. And that keeps us wondering. That's what makes silence so hard. Discomfort lies in uncertainty. ltwe knew, then we would deal with itand move on, But since we don't, we wait, wonder, and stress. http://blogs.hbr.org/bregman/2010/01/hOW-to—handle-silence-the—wors.htm1 q semen Cart My Account Downloads Subscribe | Sign ianegister Peter Bregman speaks, writes. and consults on leadership. He is the CEO of l Bregman Partners. Inc., a global management consulting firm, and the author of Point B: A Short Guide To Leading a Big Change. Sign up to receive an email when he posts, Peter Bregrnan —.——__ RECENTLY FROM PETER BREGMAN . How to Handle Silence, the Worst Kind of Feedback JAN 19 When Your Voicemails and Emails Go Unanswered. What Should You Do? JAN 12 The Right Speech to Make This Year JAN 5 20 Secondsto a Better Bonus DEC is How to Reverse a Mistake in the Middle of it DEC 3 ‘i. The 100 Best-Performing CEOs in the World (Siideshow) 2. Top Ten Ways to Find Joy at Work ‘ 3. The Best-Performing CEOs in the World I i (Article) 4, Don‘t Make Conan‘s Mistake I 5. How Companies Can Help in Haiti 6. The Most influential Management Ideas of the _ Decade 7. An Exercise in Changing Yourself 8. What's Your Company's Sentence? 1/20/2010 How to Handle Silence, the Worst Kind of Feedback — Peter Bregman - Harvard Business Page 2 of 6 So how should we deal with the uncertainty of silence when it would be inadvisable to (or we simply ; 9_ HOW to Wme T0430 Lists That Work can't) let go? Three steps: 5 t0, Howto Keep Your Action Plan on Track 1. Acknowledge to yourselfthat you don't know whatthe silence means. Resist the temptation to fill in the blank. 2. Admit to the other person that you don't know what the silence means. Ask him to fill in the blank. MAKING GREEN our .- i intuit-ms “rear fa 'oii sistariiasri ': FREE DOWNLOAD If you get an answer you don’t believe, pretend you believe it anyway. if you're told she's been busy 0 "A RETURN to PROFIT FROM - THECORE“BY CHRlSZOOK :lDLlQi‘.’ to ,Cu by ‘ HITACHI l inspire tin-Nat 3, No matter what he says, act as if it's the truth. Most people don't ask others what the silence means because they‘re afraid it will make them look vulnerable. But the opposite is true. Ifyou don‘t have the conversation, then you end up doing things 7 like emailing every few days or leaving five messages — that makes you look even more vulnerable. And the truth is, it's a sign of confidence to ask someone to be clear in his thinking. It shows you're not afraid of the answer. and that‘s the only reason, then ask her when would be a good time to pick up the conversation again. . . . ,) . And If you cant get to step two because she doesnt respond at all. Aftertwo unanswered emails or KEEP UP WITH HER voice mails you should send one final one saying some version of: “i don't mean to hound you -— but I figured I'd reach out one more time. Please let me know ifyou are able to discuss this further. lil FOI'DW “5 0” Twitter ll don't hear from you l'ii assume you're not interested." Become a Fan on Facebook » ‘ '| all t or n' t' . B 't' alter ll ' ' ' Thatfinal emai usu y ge s a p so 5 atten lOl'l utI a thatshe still doesntrespond, it HER on YouTube » should be easier to let go because you know you've done all you can. Whatever you do though, after sending that last message, don't send "just one more." Followthough —'——— on your word: assume the person is not interested. I Harvard Business Review Daily Alert And if you're the other person. the one who gets all those messages, including that final one, and - Management Tip of the Day doesn't respond? Consider communicating. it you don't know what to communicate, it's OK to say I The Daily Stat that, so the other person isn't left floundering. Tell him you‘ll get back to her when your time permits. - Weekly Hotlist I See all newsletters » How can you be expected to remember to communicate with someone when there’s nothing to communicate? Here‘s a trick: drive your communication by the person, notthe information. I keep a list of every person with whom i have an open issue. And at least once a week i go through the list and ii I haven't connected with someone in a week or two, I send an email that takes me a few WHAT’S YOUR NEXT MOVE? seconds to write that says. in effect, you're still on my list. Which reminds me, i have a couple of emails to send. More on; Communication Managing uncertainty, Managing yourself Comments US) i Join the Discussmn i Email/Share PREViOUS When Your Voicemails and Emails Go Unanswered, What Should You Do? ————*—__ PEOPLE WHO READ THIS ALSO READ: Trend to Watch: Shifting Consumption Patterns Students Will Change the Bchhoois Eric Beinhocker St Elizabeth Stephenson Lynda Gratton When to Confront Someone The Rule of Three When Your Voicemails and Emails Go Unanswered, Peter Bregman What Should You Do? Peter Bregman The Price of a Poor Experience PosteCrisis Trends You Have to Watch Peter Elregman Eric Beinhocker & Elizabeth Stephenson tr ’hlil. I ll» L;:lenmla Never miss a new post from your favorite blogger again with the Harvard Business Review Dally Alert email. The Alert delivers the latest blog posts from HBRorq directly to your inbox every morning at 8:00 AM ET. TRACKBACKS http:/fblogs.hbr.org/bregrnan/2010/01/how—to-hand1e-silence—the—worshtml 1/20/2010 ...
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