Mind Reading in Business Relationships – Just Say No

mind reading stills 2 - 08In (healthy) relationships, you don’t expect others to “mind read“.1 You don’t expect them to guess your needs and wants – you make them known. There are some broad strokes – if your partner says they don’t like chocolate, getting them a chocolate cake for their birthday makes you a douchebag – but within those broad
outlines, specific wants and needs must be made clearly and unambigously.

“I want to eat better and lose weight” means you probably shouldn’t proffer doughnuts to your significant other (sorry!), but that does not mean you should intuit that means they want any specific kind of diet at home. If they want low-carb, or all raw-food, or whatever, they need to tell you specifically. If you make them a raw-food meal and they wanted South Beach, then they have to say that.

A business relationship is like any other kind. Do not expect your employees, co-workers, or collaborators to read your mind. This isn’t saying that managers and employers should be hands-off or hands-on, macro- or micro-managers. Managers must understand their own needs and desires, and act appropriately.

Some folks do well by giving really broad goals and guidelines and letting employees “on the ground” figure out the best ways to do that. Others want adherence to a very specific and set regimen. Neither is “better” – they each have strengths and weaknesses. When you choose one of these styles, you must own both the strengths and the weaknesses.

Here’s a non-management example: I don’t keep a lot of Alliteration Ink’s inventory on hand. The POD system typically works well for me as a variation of just-in-time inventory. The upside is in storage and transportation costs, as well as the up-front investment in inventory. The downside is that if I experience a spike in orders – say, at a convention – I can run out of inventory before everyone gets a physical book. I have to be able to own both the benefits and the drawbacks of my decision.

Again, I’m not telling you that you should interact with your co-workers and employees in any specific way. I am saying you should choose what you’re going to do – and tell the people you’re working with.

1 Yes, I expect to see relationship-based psionic stories
now, thank you.

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