I Think vs. What Do You Think?

Consider one of the most overused phrases in the corporate world and maybe even in the world, in general, ―I think…

How often do we hear it? Partners, leaders, colleagues, and even our guests, customers, and clients say it all day long, day in and day out.  

The risk of beginning a sentence with ― “I think” is that it assumes the person on the other end of the phone conversation, across the conference room table, across the aisle, in the audience, or in the classroom cares about what we think. It assumes we’re already a respected and/or credible source of knowledge, on any given topic.  

The truth is, they may not even care. Even worse, they may not even respect us, let alone what we think.  

To emerge as a true leader among your peers, especially for those who take pride in the idea and challenge of leading, even before you get THE title, simply change the ―I think… to ―What do you think? in conversation with your peers. 

Most people become successful because once upon a time, they were extremely talented. Whether it’s selling, creating art of any kind, speaking, writing, dancing, or adding and subtracting; they crush it. Some people are excellent at doing, whatever they do. 

For true leaders however, everything changes. It’s less about what we do, and it becomes all about what we can inspire others to do. It’s far less about what we think, and all about inspiring them to not only share what they think, but also to put their thoughts into action.    

Once we accept that ever-so-dynamic (and at times difficult) challenge of influencing, it’s less and less about us and ALL about them. The mark of a great leader, coach, teacher or mentor – those who accept, with an open mind and heart, the challenge of positive influence – is no longer about what they, themselves, can do. 

Instead it’s all about how well they can lead and inspire others to go do fill-in-the-blank thing.  

  • Great leaders facilitate open, collaborative conversations rather than dominating every conversation. 
  • Successful coaches take suggestions and input from their players and assistant coaches rather than taking a ―my way or the highway approach. 
  • Incredibly inspiring teachers and professors take pride in being lifelong learners

They take time to stop and ask students what they think as opposed to constantly pontificating, opening sentences with, “I think.” 

Making it all about them is the quickest way to gain respect and credibility. 

With respect and credibility comes trust from not only your peer group, but also and perhaps even more importantly for your career growth, your boss. 

When your own leaders know you’ve earned the trust of your peers, you suddenly become a front-runner in the candidacy for the next leadership or managerial opening. 

What do you think?

Have a great day.

PS – My latest book, “Lead with Hospitality” is now available on Audible! Get it here.

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