A Microsoft survey revealed that over 17 hours each week are wasted in meetings. There are many causes for this gross and costly waste, but one stands out: people are serving and eating waffles!
To “waffle” means to speak in terms that are not direct; it means you are not clear in your communications.
Here’s the elephant in the office: Everyone has 100 #1 priorities to achieve. Ambiguity rules the day. Too many leaders are unable to help their teams decipher what is important – and why. This, of course, leaves little chance that effective execution can follow. Confusion reigns!
Do you want syrup or whip cream with your waffles?
STOMP THE ELEPHANT
We see it everywhere: individuals who occupy large portions of the clock to communicate an idea. This approach leaves everyone else in the room wandering aimlessly in daydreams, itching to use their Blackberries, and checking their watches. Waffles, waffles, waffles.
Of course, some people do use direct language – but in a way that tramples people. This approach is ultimately more distasteful and harmful than waffles.
There is a way to be direct and serve those around you:
1. Challenge yourself: use no more than two or three sentences to articulate a) background information and b) what is important to you.
2. In one sentence tell why the above is important to you.
3. Use one sentence to ask a specific question that allows others to explore how they will utilize the information you just provided.
Ironically, when we speak directly and to the point and people are still unclear, they’ll ask for more information, a second helping of what you’re serving! (Because they haven’t fallen asleep eating your waffles.)
Where will you lead – where will you stomp elephants – today?