Cede Control to Gain Control

02 Mar 2016
Posted by Shira Ronen

Many of us like being in control of the room, showing that we have all the answers and proving we are right. Time and again I find myself asking a question and then continuing with “because I think we should…”  It’s natural.

After all, you didn’t get where you are in your career because you were quiet! But, now that you are at this point, it will benefit you to adopt advanced communication skills – one of which requires you to stop talking.

‘Cede control to gain control’ means momentarily giving up control of a conversation (i.e., stop talking) in order to ultimately be in a stronger position.

When you allow others to share their thoughts first and truly listen to what they say, you:

  • May hear perspectives/ideas you hadn’t thought of
  • Make the other person feel respected and heard, which in turn leads to them being more engaged and motivated
  • Will be better equipped to persuade the other person towards your ideas because you can use the thought process they just shared with you to structure your argument

To practice ceding control to gain control, use the questions below to begin a conversation with direct reports or colleagues. Ask the question and then bite your tongue. Do not offer an answer to the question you are posing until the other person has spoken. Once you hear their thoughts on the matter, frame your response using their points as your framework.

  • How do you think we should approach this new challenge/issue?
  • You said X from the other team is undermining you.  I am here to support you but before I jump in to help, how would you like to approach it?
  • I know you put a lot of effort into XYZ, I’m sorry it didn’t work out. What are your thoughts about next steps?

Although this can be very challenging to practice, it will make you a better – and more persuasive – team player. (Not to mention, if you are a parent, it is also a great tool to use with kids!)

I’d love to hear how ceding control to gain control works for you. Feel free to email me to share your experience.

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