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NLP | effective communication

How Much Information is Enough?

by Dr. Vesna Grubacevic

Are you upset by all the questions your colleagues, team or manager ask you?  Do you sometimes feel like other people are giving you the third degree, micro managing or interrogating you?  Or perhaps you feel that other people could be more forthcoming with information?  Would you like to understand how to deal with these different personalities effectively to minimise any disagreements or conflicts?

Different Personalities


You have probably noticed that you get along most with people of similar personality to you and you may have challenges dealing with people of different styles to you.  In particular, if you prefer the big picture and dislike too much information, you may find that if your colleagues, team or manager inundate you with too much detail, you don’t like it.  On the other hand, if you prefer detail and your colleagues, team or manager give you minimal information, you may ask lots of questions, and even get upset if they are not forthcoming with the detail.  

For example, when was the last time you asked your colleagues, team or manager, “How is business?”  Did they give you a short answer like “fine” or perhaps they gave you so much information that you found yourself switching off and not listening to what they said.  It is important to realize that some people need a lot of detail before they can proceed with a task or make a decision so may ask you lots of questions.  On the other hand, some people simply need to be told the big picture and may therefore ask very few, if any, questions.  

Avoid thinking that your colleagues, team or manager:
  • are micro managing you or giving you the third degree if they ask you lots of questions;
  • don’t care if they don’t ask you enough questions;
  • are being secretive or keeping things from you if they only give you a one or two word answer.  
Some people have a natural preference for detail, while others prefer the big picture only.  It is simply their way of relating to people and the world around them.  Start becoming aware of the differences in your and other people’s styles so you give them the appropriate level of information.  Below are some language techniques you can use to assist you with effectively communicating with people of different styles.

Too Much Detail

To effectively communicate with your colleagues, team or manager who are caught up in too much detail and who are asking you too many questions, ask them these questions to assist them with seeing the big picture:
  • "What is your intention...?"   eg. What is your intention for this project?
  • “What is your objective…?”
  • “What is your outcome…?”
These questions will bring them out of the detail and help them to “see the forest from the trees”.  Asking these questions will also assist you to reach win-win agreements with them and help them with making decisions.

Tell Me More

To effectively communicate with your colleagues, team or manager who are only giving you one or two word answers and you want more information, ask them these questions:
  • "What specifically...?"  eg. What specifically would you like to do?
  • “Who specifically…?
  • “How specifically…?”
Asking these questions will assist them to access more information and to give you more details.  Of course, you also want to respect their style and avoid asking too many questions or they may feel that you are micro managing them, even if that is not your intention.

By being aware of the differences between you and your colleagues, team or manager's style, you can use the above language techniques to easily and effectively create more fulfilling and successful business relationships.


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