Elevate One-On-Ones to Power Moments
Saying “we” is weaker than saying “you” during one-on-ones.
Don’t say “we” when you mean “you”. It might feel like good manners to say “we”, but it’s disingenuous. It might soften the blow, but it borders on deceit.
I always hated it when a leader said “we” when they actually wanted me to do something. What could “we” do about that, is manipulative, unless you are prepared to be involved.
When you want others to take personal ownership, say “you” not “we”. Reserve “we” for topics that include several people, including yourself.
“We” gives the impression others are responsible. Ownership is an individual matter before it’s the team’s.
The term “you” is especially relevant during one-on-ones and coaching sessions. But, don’t use “you” to pressure people. Strong leaders don’t need to be coercive.
4 guidelines for one-on-one locations:
Choose a location for one-on-ones that minimizes disparities in position and status. Don’t sit in your office. Find environments that are:
- Off site when possible.
7 ways to enhance one-on-one dynamics:
- Give power seats to your conversation partner.
- Sit with an open posture.
- Relax and smile.
- Speak less and listen more. The one with the most power speaks the most. Let others speak more to elevate their power.
- Explain yourself. Don’t allow others to speculate about your thoughts and attitudes.
- Avoid judgement – embrace exploration. Judgement causes people to lift protective barriers.
- Resist your inclination to give answers and offer solutions. Place power and responsibility in their court by exploring answers and solutions “with” not “for”.
One-on-ones are powerful opportunities for people to explore their passion and move toward meaningful contribution. Give power, don’t seize it. Release, don’t control. Timid people don’t dare to take action.
Power makes people bold.
What tips enhance the effectiveness of one-on-ones?
One method of minimizing the power dynamic that has been modeled for me is the co-creation of one-on-one discussion topics where both parties contribute to the agenda. Some of my former supervisors have used this in addition to your suggestion of listen more/talk less.
Thanks Scott. Love the idea of creating a shared agenda. I can see how it shares power. thanks again
What about when you are doing one-on-one’s with someone who consistently lies… and who isn’t holding up THEIR end of a partnership? Someone who’s basically abused every partnership agreement they promised?
Thanks C. I feel your frustration. Dealing with situations/people who don’t change is more common that you might think. Here’s an observation about these situations. People get frustrated because they do the same things over and over. I often ask, what is your goal and what new behavior would you like to try to achieve it? You have my best for the journey.
The one thing i like about these article is the emphasis of being patients and a good listener
The use of we and I in the scientific world can become twisted. Let me explain – most scientific experiments demonstrate facts that do not depend on the observer, therefore, reports should avoid using the first and second person. It’s just part of the scientific point of view. Scientists observe and record as objectively as possible, avoiding personal bias by removing ourselves. Unfortunately this “objectivity” becomes a huge problem with one on ones – especially when one of the individuals isn’t a scientist!
Monthly focused one-on-one “listening sessions” with my direct reports, usually off-site and over coffee, were some of the most valuable work conversations I had, and are one of the things I miss most in retirement. Getting away from the myriad distractions of the office and really listening to what very smart and capable people had to say was always useful. Of course, I had informal (less focused) conversations with these folks daily; you can’t reasonably expect people you seldom talk with to really open up in the one-on-one sessions. And, while I prefer the “constant feedback” model of performance assessment, our organization required a formal performance evaluation every six months. The one-on-ones provided an additional feedback opportunity to make sure no one was surprised by the mandatory evaluation. Often, I gave “think about this” suggestions during the one-on-ones; topics or ideas to be discussed again during the coming month or at the next monthly conversation. In a hierarchical, strict “chain of command” organization, these are golden opportunities to empower others and encourage ownership of responsibilities, actions and results.
Don’t analyze. Ask questions to help others analyze themselves. Ask How and Why, and ask it in a non-judgmental way. Then paraphrase what you heard to confirm.
Wow. Guilty of this .. “we” … Guess I am timid from days of being too aggressive with subordinates and have slid to far to the other side and generally try to share accountability – thanks for the reality check.
Thank you so much for these daily words.
And thank you for being a man of God.