1 Quick Tip to Get Better Responses from Superiors

communication engagement Nov 08, 2021
Mel Butcher, Mel Butcher's Underdog Engineers Blog

This tip applies to interacting with your superiors, but honestly, it can help you improve communication in any relationship.

If you feel like you're not getting the engagement you want from a superior, particularly if you feel like you're not getting pulled into things like projects or tasks, try this:

Stop saying, "Let me know if I can help you with anything else."

Instead, start asking, "How can I help you complete XYZ task today?"

Let's break it down. In the first phrase. you're asking the receiver of your message to do multiple pieces of work, including emotional labor. -- Do I need help with anything else? What else do I need help with? Can this person really do it? Do I have to teach them? Do I have time to teach them ABC task? 

In that first case, the speaker is asking the message receiver to do too much work. It's too easy for the receiver to just say to themselves that it will be easier to do the task(s) themselves.

A better alternative to this, especially if you are trying to get yourself pulled in to work, is to be more specific in your offer to help.

"How can I help you complete XYZ task today?"

This question asks directly *how you can help with the specific task or set of tasks you know the person has on their plate. Rather than the receiver having to go through additional steps in their mind to identify where they could potentially use help, you're helping identify this. 

And then you're also giving it a timeline. You're not free in perpetuity, so giving the other person a timeline of your availability (today, tomorrow, next week, etc.) helps the receiver understand what you have the bandwidth for and what you're offering.

Give this method a try several times, and let me know how it goes!

Doors close for the next Underdog Engineers CATALYZE course on December 11, 2021. Catalyze is for early-career engineering job hunters. In Catalyze, you'll learn to draw opportunity to you, rather than falling down the resume and online job application black hole. Sessions will run over holiday break, with live lessons on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday evenings for 3 weeks.

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