How Can I Think More Quickly On My Feet?

“Dear Ann, I loved your webinar on meetings, your newsletters are so informative, and I have a couple of your books too! What I could really use is some advice on thinking quickly on my feet, especially when answering to a VP or Director.”

Great question! Since I couldn’t recall answering this question before, I was intrigued. My reader and I exchanged a few emails so I could clarify the situation and ensure my answer was on target.

My reader works in healthcare. Since accurate communication is so important to patient care, they use a proven technique called SBAR, which stands for Situation, Background, Assessment, and Recommendation. This framework creates a structured and standardized format so that health care workers can exchange important information quickly and effectively. It creates shared clarity!

I asked my reader if she has trouble thinking quickly on her feet when responding to questions within the context of SBAR.

“No,” she replied. “It is only when senior people show up and ask me questions that catch me by surprise.”

By probing further, I discovered that the questions that leave her struggling are all incredibly vague. They are the equivalent of asking me what I do. Let’s see, how many ways might I answer that question? I create clarity. I help my clients get better results faster. I consult, coach, and speak, I travel and read as much as I can, …. I could go on!

Consider my reader’s plight:

  • She is eager to be concise and helpful and waste no one’s time
  • She is faced with a totally unclear question that could be answered in many ways
  • She blames herself

What should she do? 

First and foremost, she should not feel inadequate in the face of others who are unclear! That in itself will improve her ability to think more clearly!

Second, she has two choices:

  • Guess, or
  • Ask clarifying questions

I recommend the latter. It is much more effective than guessing someone’s intent and then blathering on in the hopes of meeting particular needs.

If she were the boss and not the victim, I would add one more option to that list: learn how to create more shared clarity across the organization

As I mentioned, SBAR creates clarity by providing a framework for communication. But it does more than improve communication. It also provides a framework for thinking. By stepping through the four step process, people can be much more thorough and intentional. “Have I covered the current situation adequately? What background information might we be missing given our most recent findings?” On top of that, the SBAR framework improves the ability of others to supplement or question opinions and facts at each step. The result is safer, better, and faster health care decisions.

While SBAR is a very specific tool for a very specific industry, tools like this don’t have to be so narrowly focused. One thing I teach my clients is to SOAR through decisions. SOAR works with any decision and, like SBAR, it improves communication, thinking, and the ability to interact effectively with others. The result is better, faster decisions. (Download my Clarity App to learn how to SOAR through Decisions!)

Ann’s Clarity App users were also recently introduced to the SPOT problem remover – my new framework for removing problems – once and for all. Like SBAR and SOAR, it creates shared clarity by getting everyone on the same page, establishing a shared language, and providing a logical process to better solutions.

Tools like SOAR and SPOT help my clients save significant time while also improving results. They are great examples of the power of shared clarity.

Want to help everyone think more quickly on their feet? Focus on creating shared clarity! The benefits are better results faster with far greater confidence and commitment!

Need help? Not sure where to start? Call me at 800-527-0087.

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