It’s Not Them, It’s You

January 10, 2010 | By | Add a Comment

Author: Mary Jo Asmus

You’re leading a monthly meeting. You’ve asked your team members to provide their input on a topic. Unlike your teenager who at least shrugs his shoulders (or says “I don’t know”) when you ask for his opinion, you get silent stares from your team. What could be going on?

Are your team members incompetent? Do they even know enough about the subject to speak up? Don’t they know that their input is important? Actually, you may need to look to yourself and your behavior as the cause.

The behaviors you exhibit may be shutting your team down. Luckily, these behaviors can be fixed over time, increasing the likelihood that you will get the input you seek. Let’s explore the behaviors that may be preventing your team from speaking up:

You are not listening
Are you doing all the talking? Are you shutting people down or cutting them off?

You have ignored your team’s input
Do you have a history of asking for input and then doing whatever you think is right anyway?

You are asking the wrong kind of questions
Are your questions the kind that don’t foster discussion (yes/no questions for example)?  Are the questions you are asking ones that you already know the answers to?

You supply the answers to the questions
Do you ask the question and then supply your own answers? Are you allowing the silence necessary for your team to consider their answer (yes, silence can be a good thing in this case)?

You shoot the messenger
Do you respond with your opinion (often negative) to the responses you’ve received? Do you feel the need to judge every answer?

Are you showing impatience or temper?
Does your body language indicate that you are not getting the kind of answers you want? Are you rolling your eyes or sighing when a team member responds to a question? Worse yet, are you showing signs of anger or exhibiting outbursts?

Is it possible that any of these behaviors apply to you? Ask someone you trust to observe you and provide some feedback. If you find that you are exhibiting any of the behaviors above, you need to change your behavior.

You’ve lost respect – for yourself and for others – and are on a downward spiral. It’s recoverable. More about how to recover in the next post.

© Mary Jo Asmus is a a former executive in a Fortune 100 company, who now owns and operates a leadership solutions firm called Aspire Collaborative Services at

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