How to Help Cautious Decision-Makers Make Commitments

Great results require meaningful commitments.

A commitment is saying NO many times in service to a meaningful YES.

The truth about MAYBE:

I hate MAYBE. Just say yes or no!

Maybe is worse than No.

People who can’t say NO and aren’t ready to say YES are anchors. When someone says, “I’m not sure,” everything grinds to a halt until they make up their mind. 

MAYBE is a stranglehold on progress.

But thoughtful people need time to commit.

7 steps that help cautious decision-makers make meaningful commitments:

  1. Make clear requests. Don’t beat around the bush. Cautious decision-makers hate ambiguity. Discuss purpose, outcomes, and responsibilities, for example.
  2. Connect requests to their values and goals. How are you helping them get where they want to go? Explore what they get when you explain what you need.
  3. Expect ‘Maybe’ and ‘I’m not sure’ if it’s a big ask. Stay on target, but don’t push down the door.
  4. Offer support. “I’m glad you’re giving this commitment some consideration. What information might I provide that will help you make up your mind?”
  5. Ask, “What needs to be true for you in order for you to be comfortable making this commitment?”
  6. State intent. “I want to keep moving the agenda forward.”
  7. Set a reasonable deadline. “Could you give me your decision by end of day this Thursday?” Or, “When is a good time for you to give me your decision?”

Help team members identify and explore their greater yes if you expect meaningful commitments.

Tip: Relieve pressure by saying, “I’m OK either way.” If you aren’t OK with someone saying no, it’s not a request. It’s a demand.

Teammates who make commitments slowly and follow-through fully are better than those who commit quickly and disappoint.

How might leaders help people make meaningful commitments?