Speak Their Language


By Ron Taylor, PMP 

Virginia, USA

As a project or program manager you are often expected to come up with immediate solutions to pressing problems.  It often seems nobody has time for you to bounce ideas off other people.

Do it anyway.

Bouncing ideas off others can help clarify your thinking, but use caution.  If you keep asking the same people, you may want to ask yourself why you are limiting your options.  If it is because they all speak your language, perhaps you need to learn another one.

I make it a point not to go to the same people each time.  I am especially interested in learning the opinions of the quieter people.  They are often sources of well-considered opinions, and engaging them in casual one-on-one conversations encourages them to eventually share their opinions in meetings, to everyone’s benefit.

Asking people to share their opinions also helps everyone feel like part of the team, and it helps you learn not only what others think but how they think.

You can learn what people think by simply asking for their opinion.  Some people stop right there.  They take the answer back to their cave and add it to the pile of opinions.

Going beyond that to learn how people think can give you insight into the way you can best work with them.  For example, if you ask Mary how she arrived at her opinion and she describes a process that emphasizes details and logic, it could mean she tends to focus more on tasks than relationships.

If you are assigning work to Mary, try modeling her approach.  Come to the point right away.  Make the conversation brief, describe what you want, when it is due, and encourage her to ask questions if she has any problems.

If instead her answer focuses on people, you might engage in a few preliminaries, talking about other topics before mentioning the task you are assigning to her.  Explain the benefits of the task from the point of view of the project team or the organization and how it will help people save time and work more effectively.


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About the Author

ron-taylorflag-usaRon Taylor MBA, PMP 

Ron Taylor is an internationally-known leader, lecturer, author, and consultant, and the principal and founder of the Ron Taylor Group.  Ron served as President and CEO of a 10,000-person organization (PMIWDC) and was named Leader of the Year by the 500,000-person Project Management Institute (PMI®).

Ron is an Adjunct Professor in the MBA Programs at both Virginia Tech and GeorgeMasonUniversity.  He is represented by the Washington Speakers Bureau, and his latest book, Leadership: Stories, Lessons and Uncommon Sense is available on Amazon.  Ron can be reached at [email protected]