Lindsay LaNore: Tell me more

people holding coffee cups
By Lindsay LaNore, ICBA

Tell me more. This is a powerful phrase, and one that we may not be using as much as we should.

Your team is a valuable resource. Using the words “tell me more” is open-ended and inclusive, and it tells everyone that you’re interested in their ideas and opinions. You may have answers, but you can’t have all the answers all the time.

“Tell me more” is a reminder to take a breath and listen fully. Studies have shown that we may hear, but we don’t always take in what’s being said. And that’s harder than ever in the digital era, as our attention spans grow ever shorter.

Make time for conversation, ideally face to face (on screen or safely distanced, if necessary), then slow down and really listen. Don’t start formulating your response in your head before the other person has finished speaking (we’ve all done it), don’t distractedly check your phone and don’t cut someone off when you think you’ve heard enough. Asking for input and then ignoring it is worse than not asking for it at all.

“Tell me more” encourages a conversation to go beyond the surface.

If you don’t understand what someone is saying, ask them to clarify. If something is unclear or even incoherent, it may be tempting to hurry the conversation along, but sometimes taking the time to dig a little deeper can reap rewards.

There is often an issue simmering or hidden just below the surface of a statement. The phrase “tell me more” can help draw that out in an inviting, honest manner. It may coax out the real reason your team member has brought up an issue.

This prompt leads to better listening. Effective listening is about being actively involved in a conversation, going beyond words, looking at body language and considering the context. Remember what you already know about the person, including their cultural background, but try not to prejudge what a person says based on what you think of them. That can be a delicate balance.

“Tell me more” encourages a conversation to go beyond the surface. It’s a teaching moment for others involved in the discussion to push to the 30,000-foot level and view the situation holistically, perhaps before a problem becomes bigger than it needs to be. It might also open the door to a difficult conversation that needs to be had. Plus, it might uncover exciting new opportunities that weren’t even on your radar.

This principle applies to customer interactions, mentoring or even parenting. If people feel like you want to hear what they have to say, they will be more likely to listen to—and follow—what you have to say. The more you ask, the more new ideas you are welcoming in. And that invites positive change.

Lindsay LaNore ( is group executive vice president and chief learning and experience officer