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Why I Hate The Word “Sure”

You’re going back and forth with a team member over something you disagree about, when they say, “Sure.” That “sure” makes Shannon Waller crazy. It means that the person has shut down and isn’t fully in agreement. If you’re committed to team success and having a Self-Managing Company®, Shannon has tips for how to re-engage both sides in this conversation.

Show Notes:

Have you ever noticed this happening?

  • You and a team member go back and forth with different opinions about a project. The other person ends up saying, “Sure” and shuts down.
  • "Sure” implies agreement without actually meaning agreement.
  • This drives Shannon crazy because “sure” is passive-aggressive, inauthentic, and makes it hard for her to understand what the real situation is.
  • Dan Sullivan always says, “All progress starts by telling the truth.”

Reasons people say “sure” when they don’t mean it:

  • They want to get out of the conversation.
  • The back and forth feels like arguing to them, and it makes them uncomfortable.
  • They’re putting peace in the short term ahead of the long term and bigger picture.
  • They don’t feel like they’re being heard.
  • They’re frustrated and don’t know where else to go with the conversation.

How to approach “Sure” when you’re on the receiving end:

  • Acknowledge that it’s not just a difference of opinion but a communication problem to address.
  • Ask yourself, in this discussion, are you committed to taking effective action, to teamwork, and to hearing other people’s points of view?
  • Give them an opening: “Sounds like we’re not quite on the same page, but you’re getting frustrated trying to get your point across. Is that true?”
  • If they agree, let them know, “Okay. Try again. Let me listen more generously.”

Great team collaboration begins with great communication.

  • The Strategic Coach® team has had fabulous communication training through The Collaborative Way®.
  • Step one is Speak Straight. Step two is Listen Generously.
  • Patrick Lencioni says an important stage of development for a team is called psychological safety.
  • When a team doesn’t have fear of conflict, they can have a healthy debate about the issue, not about one another.

As a leader, it’s up to you to create an environment for others to feel free to clearly and directly state their point of view.

  • Leaders must realize their position over others makes team members less open to expressing themselves honestly.
  • Here are some ways to prompt:
  • “How can we go about this differently, so we can actually have a creative, productive conversation?”
  • “Tell me more about that.”
  • “What am I missing? What am I not hearing?”
  • “Why are you so convinced about this other point of view?”
  • “Would you mind trying again? I want to make sure I get your full point of view.”

How to avoid ending up saying “Sure” when you’re frustrated:

  • Ask yourself what your commitment is: are you owning your seat at this table?
  • If you’re committed to making something happen, Shannon strongly encourages you to speak up:
  • “Hey, can you listen generously? There are some things that I want to get heard on, and I need to know that you hear me. You don’t have to agree; I just want to know that you hear me.”
  • All good leaders will respond well to this invitation to listen.
  • Take responsibility for making sure your point gets across.
  • Keep the long-term goals and harmony in mind, not just the short-term ones.
  • Throw up a flare if you feel the louder, more dominating and driving voices (the Ds in DISC profiles) are talking over you.
  • They won’t think your directness is too harsh; they’ll think you’re being clear.

If each side can bring their 100% to the conversation, you will at least meet in the middle.

  • If you’re committed to having a Self-Managing and Self-Multiplying Company, then you’re committed to results where everyone’s on board to make things happen and really owns their contribution.

Get in touch with us if you have stories or experiences to share about “sure.” Is this a trigger for you too? Do you have another one?


The Collaborative Way

Patrick Lencioni


Episode Transcript:
Shannon Waller: This one single word drives me crazy. Stay tuned to find out what it is and what to do about it.
Hi, Shannon Waller here and welcome to Team Success. Something happened the other day that I thought, “Oh, I cannot wait to record an episode on this,” because it drove me crazy and I’m super-curious to see if it drives you crazy as well.
What happened was I was in a conversation with a very trusted colleague, one of my very best friends. We were having a debate about things and it wasn’t going quite the way that she wanted, so then what she said at the end was, “Sure.” I’ve learned that I hate the word ‘sure’, which, why do I hate it? Because it implies agreement without actual meaning agreement, so it’s kind of fake.
I realized there’s other words than just ‘sure’, there’s this like, “Okay, whatever you say.” Oh my gosh, I realize those words now are so triggering for me because I know that they are pretend. Someone is saying that to get out of the conversation because they’re tired of what they perceive as being arguing or going back and forth and they’re just like, “Whatever,” and they’re kind of giving up.

About the Author

Shannon Waller, Entrepreneurial Team Strategist, is a natural collaborator who instinctively saw that a thriving Unique Ability® Team can strengthen their entrepreneur, the business, and themselves. A win-win-win. Go, team, is Shannon’s rallying cry.

Profile Photo of Shannon Waller