A focus on “just the facts” can help us stay on track, make sure our communication is relevant, and provide grounding for complicated issues. As with so many rules of convention, however, there are exceptions. I’d like to invite you to occasionally consider including a recommendation, insight, or perspective to help provide context to the facts. The three situations below are circumstances where providing more than “just the facts” may serve you well.
When They Are Asking The Wrong Questions
Let’s say you’re a social media expert and I’m your client. If I ask you how many “likes” we have on Facebook, you absolutely should answer my question. But, you can offer so much more than a singular data point because of your significant education, information, and experience. Go ahead and ask what I’m trying to understanding by soliciting that one bit of information. You may find that I’m asking the wrong question and should be trying to understand the valueof Facebook likes (not the number). Then you can introduce me to KPIs and conversion rates. (Of course, you’ll share that information in a non-technical way that I can understand and at a pace that I can process, right?)
When the Outcome Impacts Your Success
If you need to have a certain outcome for your own success, you may want to provide more than just the facts. Let’s look again at the social media expert example. Your success in that case depends on the value you can deliver to our social media program. So letting me focus on the number of Facebook “likes” does a disservice to our work together (you could have helped me better understand and appreciate your work) and it also fails to set you up for success. You need me to understand that success for you is about determining, measuring, and improving those KPIs. Providing more than just the answer to the question I asked will help both of us.
When You Can Provide Valuable Insights
As a social media expert, you have significantly more information and experience than I do. As you work to increase our social media footprint, you’re likely to notice a number of contextual clues that I won’t see. Telling me about the sudden spike in engagement with pro wrestlers or the way vegans have made our post go viral is incredibly valuable information. Increase that value exponentially by drawing insights from that data and telling me whythe wrestlers or vegans are interested in our company.
We all have access to valuable data that can add to the success of our departments, businesses, and organizations. Knowing when to provide more than “just the facts” can improve your outcomes at both the micro and the macro level. You don’t necessarily need to deliver a compassionate persuasive speech to make your point, but do consider sharing your insights, opinions, and recommendations when it can serve the greater good.
Talk to you next week,
P.S. We’re introducing our Language of Leadership online course this week. This 6-week program guides you through assessing your own ideas around language and leadership, exploring the landscape in which you work, and designing an action plan for improving your language of leadership. Here’s what one of our pilot program participants says of the class, “I took away a lot of tips and pointers that I began implementing immediately. And I was able to formulate a long term strategy for improving my communication skills. Perhaps the most insightful aspect for me was the work around identifying your company’s values and leaders and then assessing it against your own strengths and goals.” Simply reply to this email for info on joining the next cohort. Class start June 4.