Communicating Like a Skeptic

Your brain automatically calculates the risks, the ‘failure points’, and what needs to be solved to make ‘this thing’ happen successfully. Everyone else is cheering this next great idea publicly (and perhaps not privately). Do you dare say it? 

I get it, you don’t want to tell the emperor they have no clothes. Maybe you had feedback about ‘being negative’ in the past and don’t need to have *that* conversation again! 

Still, you have a role as a skeptic. You hold value when you see the risks others do not observe or articulate. If you stay silent, you erase that value. 

I talk about possible approaches for critiquing a risky idea with a dose of diplomacy (you choose the dosage):

  • Ask permission – how open are we to exploring potential risks in this? Hey, sometimes, the decision is made and you are going white water rafting without a raft. Now you know.
  • Clarify with questions – if we were to encounter an issue at X point, what would we want to be ready to address? Maybe they saw the risk and just didn’t articulate the plan. If not, you gave them a way to hold dignity and consider options.
  • Call it out and offer option/s – I see a risk if we don’t do Y to resolve things when X is likely to happen. What are your thoughts on that? If something is a significant risk, it’s fair game to raise it. Specifically asking for feedback on your idea may soften the sting – and yet your point about the risk is made.

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