Today Bailey, my Sheltie, and I were at our agility training class navigating a difficult set of obstacle combinations. Bailey had a choice of two jumps and consistently took the wrong jump. I thought I was doing everything right in guiding Bailey. I kept telling her which jump to take but she just wasn’t getting it. Our instructor Liz stopped us and she asked me, “Do you know what you are telling Bailey to do?” She said “You say take this jump but your motions and body are telling Bailey to take the wrong jump.”
As I replayed our route, it hit me that I was saying one thing and with every other nonverbal queue I was telling her another. Liz then asked me to run the same route without saying a word but let my arm motions and body tell Bailey where to go. We ran the route perfectly.
I wonder how often in project management we send mixed signals to our project team. Our words say one thing but actions or nonverbal queues say another. Sometimes I think as managers we say too much instead of saying enough. A few well placed communications aligned with actions and nonverbal queues are more powerful than a bunch of words with mixed signals.
I am not advocating silence as a management tool but rather to improve the quality of our words by not wasting them and diluting them with mixed signals.