3 Dec 2007

"What are your thoughts on this?"

Posted by paulandrew

I recently got a call from a friend who leads a professional association. She had just been through a tough experience and wanted to talk about it. Sometimes leadership isn’t pretty, and she just seen that firsthand.

She talked for awhile about what had just happened, and how she was doing, and then she stopped rather abruptly and said, “What are your thoughts on this?” I was about to share my thoughts, but my intuition said that something didn’t really add up. My sense was that she had more to say.

And so rather than “taking the mic,” I handed it back to her and said, “Well I’m wondering how you’re doing with all that’s gone on.” And with that she picked right up, and talked further about the situation in her thoughts and feelings about it.

In retrospect, I’m guessing that when she said, “What are your thoughts on this?”  what she really meant was, “I’ve been talking for a while, and I wonder if you want to talk now.” In other words she was being polite in turn taking, and offering me to take a turn. And as an attentive supportive listener, I had the wherewithal to see that she actually had more to say, and I gave her the space to say it.

The take away for me is that when somebody says to me, “What do you think?” it’s worth handing “the mic” back to them once or twice to see if they actually have more to say. Often they do.

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