“We Should” Isn’t Necessarily Actionable!

Three times now, just in the last year, I taked to an executive assistant who works for a high Blue boss. It’s generally a question out of frustration: I do all this stuff, this prep, getting this or that ready, or planning that…and…nothing comes of it.

Bad news and bad news: In all three cases, the big-cheese was not in the seminar. The other bad news in working for a Blue or Orange boss is that you need to find a way to almost ignore their instructions. Let me explain that, because it’s not what you’re thinking – and it’s really hard to do.

Blues and Oranges think out loud. They’ll share a lot of “we should,” or “it’s be great if we could,” or “I’m going to implement…” type of talk. Whether it’s with a boss or at home, most people, especially Golds, take that as a call to action. Get ready, here’s what we should do, could do, going to implement, or whatever.

As a result, the (often) Gold EA, friend, or partner, does a ton of work on a lengthy to-do list only to never have the issue brought up again, or end up with something totally different, or being asked why they’re doing all this work on something?

Yes, the Blue or Orange will literally be confused why their ‘sounding board’ is working so hard on something. But, but, but you said we should… Remember that they are talking it through. That’s very different than a Green who will think things through without uttering a word. Then, when it’s actually perfected, it’ll be verbalized, actionable and going to happen.

When both people, whether at home or in the office, know Colors (hence the note that their boss wasn’t in the seminar), it’s OK to just ask: Should I start working on this or are you thinking/talking it through? When only the ‘implementation’ person (in these cases, the EA) knows Colors, it’s incredibly hard to almost literally ignore this thinking-out-loud process the first time the subject comes up. If the same thing comes up again, it’s much more likely to be something that’s going to be actionable. Untl then, 9 out of 10 thoughts or possibilities are unlikely to be put into action right now.

Conversely, if you’re the leader that has done the Colors seminar, let your staff member know the times and the difference between thinking out loud or already decided!