Less is more. Or is it?

Here’s the thing about context: some people want paragraphs, others want bullet points. At work, understanding context preferences and adapting your communication style can lead to faster decision making and build better working relationships. Most of the time, we assume how much context someone else wants. In the workplace, I’ve seen this play out in the dynamic between managers and direct reports.

Scenario 1:

Employee: I’ll present all the facts upfront so they understand why this matters.
Manager: I wish I knew why we were talking about all of this.

In this scenario, the employee thinks it’s important to explain why they came to their decision. Meanwhile, the manager wants to get to the point. 

Scenario 2:

Employee: I don’t want to bother them. I’ll update them when I achieve a milestone on this project.
Manager: I haven’t heard from them in a while. I wonder if that project is falling behind.

Here, the employee isn’t providing enough information, and the manager is craving more.

People who prefer less context may be misunderstood as blunt or impatient. Those who crave more context may be perceived as long-winded or inarticulate. Neither of these assumptions are true. Context preferences are just that – a preference

The key is learning how to adapt to the context preferences of others. The best place to start is by having an open conversation about your context preferences and how you like to receive information. In today’s remote-work world, learning how to communicate effectively with your team is more important than ever before.