When we're the boss, we can say "do this because I say so" and expect compliance. When we're the respected expert, we can say "do this because it's the right thing to do" and people who show us respect by following our advice. When we're paying the bill, we can say "do it or else" and get others to follow our orders or get shortchanged.
Most of the time, we're cannot say "do this" and then watch it get it done. We're not in the position of authority, of commanding respect or of being in control of the consequences for non-compliance. Saying "do this!" will come across as bossy, pushy, arrogant, over-reaching, insensitive, or some other disconnect. We need an alternative that gets cooperation. One that works for me replaces telling people to "do this" with "when you're deciding whether to, how to or when to do this, consider this...". I show them the respect they deserve as those who already have a lot on their minds, who need to make up their own minds and who want to make better decisions by upgrading what they have in mind. I handoff the final determination to them while giving my input on how their decision gets made.
Sometimes it helps to discuss what does into good decisions in general. I usually cover the ground of generating more options and considering more criteria to avoid jumping to conclusions. I'm fond of showing how better decisions result from making the process more complicated, not more simplified. Occasionally, I explore a decision tree where choices get lined up in sequences and progressively eliminate the wide range of alternatives. I show how additional criteria can be discovered by considering what the decision depends upon and what the decision will impact.
All this applies to what I'm telling you to do right now. It's unlikely that, just because I said so here, you would replace telling people to "do this" with "when you're deciding whether to, how to or when to do this, consider this..." You need to be shown the respect of someone who has a lot on your mind, who needs to make up your own mind and who wants to make better decisions by upgrading what you have in mind.
- When you're deciding when to take this approach, consider if there's no need to bother with all this. Perhaps you can exercise your authority, command respect as an expert or attach consequences to others' non-compliance. Perhaps people want to be told what to do by you because they are unfamiliar with the situation, need structure imposed by someone better informed or depend on people to give them what they need to succeed.
- When you're deciding how to take this approach, consider how much resistance you're facing. The more objections, apprehensions or excuses the others will raise, the more complications need to be added to their decision making process. However, if their hesitation is slight, their decision making can be simplified.
- When you're deciding whether to take this approach, consider what else could improve by showing others this respect. Ponder what efforts could benefit from others making better decisions about their involvements. Explore what spill-over effects might be realized from engaging their minds in this way in the realms of creativity, contributions to shared objectives, and cooperation with team efforts. You may want to back-off from using this approach if you find you're in intensely adversarial situations where you're held in contempt, under suspicion and out of the loop of backstabbing commentary.
Deciding to do this is your own decision. I hope I've given you enough food for thought for you to make a decision that works for you.