This is a classic example of how our own knowledge and experience can cause us to go into ‘tell’ mode before we find out what the other person already knows. This leads to irritation, a fall in engagement and a lack of listening. Had she started with ‘What have you already tried?’ it might have been a shorter and more fruitful conversation.
Most people come to a conversation believing they have some expertise and wanting both choice and autonomy over the conversation. Even if we believe we have knowledge to share it can be more helpful to start from a position of respect and partnership. This is especially the case with younger or inexperienced staff. Even when you are asked for advice, try to use the following sequence:
WHAT do you know already about XXXXXX?
WOULD you like me to tell you what I know?
WHY this activity is important. (implications, consequences, potential issues that can arise)
WHAT questions do you have?
When do you tend to go into ‘tell’ mode?
When can you try this approach?
What might get in the way?