I have several clients who have a great hard working employee who drives them bonkers in meetings simply because s/he gives too much detail causing a 10 minute touch base to easily expand into an hour long energy sucking experience.

Of course this isn’t the employee’s intention.

More likely the employee is simply looking for reassurance.

So here’s how to support that employee while also making your communication experience more enjoyable and efficient:

Foundational Conversation & Use of Discussion Frame Up Form 

  1. Reassurance: When someone starts getting “into the weeds,” interrupt him/her. Pause. Look them in the eye and say something along the lines of, “X, I know you work hard and that you’re competent as well as thoughtful in your work. While I know you want me to understand your process, I trust you and many of your choices and decisions. (Pause) I don’t need all of this detail. All I need to know is ABC.” ABC could be what s/he specifically needs to know to move forward. It could be the cost of a project. Or a next step. Let her/him know that most times you just need to know WHAT, not all of the WHY. They don’t need to explain or justify their choices in most cases.
  2. Code Word: Have a word you two agree upon that you can use to kindly interrupt them when they’re going into the weeds.
  3. Analogy: Give them an analogy to hold on to – for example if you requested they provide a diabetic dessert all you want for follow through is for them to tell you they baked a sugar free cake. You don’t need to know that they tried Stevia, honey, palm sugar, applesauce and all the trials and tribulations they went through to get to the right ingredient with the right measurement that worked with the rest of the ingredients and which store they went to to find the ingredients or who they talked to to figure out the best recipe.
  4. High Level Context: If they need your help and want you to understand everything they’ve tried, tell them you appreciate high level context. In this case, “I made a sugar free cake and had to try four sugar free substitutes before I figured out what worked.”
  5. Frame-Up: Ask them to use the Discussion Frame Up Form BEFORE meeting with you – Discussion Frame-Up