How intentional are you with the speed at which you think, work, or talk? Our pace can directly impact our effectiveness and how others perceive us (and vice versa). Managing our speed is a way to increase our emotional intelligence. I will take the next few blogs to examine this issue.

People make judgments based on our speed relative to theirs.

This topic has been surfacing in coaching conversations with different clients. The common element was a lack of awareness and management of speed, and the results were less than optimal. Fair or not, people make judgments about us based on our speed of:

  • Decision-making
  • Speaking
  • Responding

Even if our speed doesn’t negatively impacts other’s perceptions of us, our faster pace can undermine organizational change efforts. This is so critical that I plan to devote an entire future blog to that topic. But let’s focus on decision-making speed today.

The speed of decision-making is critical, especially when two people are at different ends of the spectrum. For instance, Bob who has high Gallup strengths of Activator, Command, Competition and very low Deliberative, moves through tasks very quickly. His manager, however, who has high Analytical and Deliberative, started distrusting Bob’s suggestions because he didn’t think Bob gave them enough thought. Bob works at a high level of intensity, decides quickly, and then wants to move to the next task. He is very effective, but the ramifications of his inability to slow down were limiting his opportunities and access to higher-level projects.

Slowing down is sometimes the best way to speed up.
– Mike Vance

Quick Tips to Manage Your Speed
For people with high energy and a fast pace of operating, quick decision-making can be a constraint. So, how do they (I should say “we” because it includes myself) manage this issue? Here are some suggestions that have worked for my clients:

  • Seek input from those around you on the quality of your decisions.
  • Before making a final decision, ask, “Have I included others who would have valuable input or by their inclusion, would increase engagement?”
  • Think about second and third level ramifications of the decision. Good ideas poorly implemented are bad decisions.
  • Hold back on responding immediately even if you know the answer. Tell others that you will get back to them later in the day or tomorrow, after you give it some thought. This does wonders in increasing their confidence and credibility in you because people assume you should take as long as they would to make a good decision, even if that’s untrue.

You might be asking, “What if I am on the other side and decide too slowly?” The implication is that you might be perceived as less competent or confident, neither of which is good. Here are some ideas for you:

  • Determine upfront a reasonable amount of time for processing the decision, then set an alarm and stick to this time-frame. If it’s a complicated decision you might set times for each portion of the process.
  • Force yourself to make low-risk, low impact and easily reversed decisions more quickly than you typically would.
  • Post a list of “good decisions” you have made to give yourself confidence in your decision-making abilities.
  • Ask yourself, “Am I delaying because I am afraid what others will think about my decision?” Recognize that not deciding is a decision and that appeasing others is often a poor choice.
  • Be strategic on what decisions you take longer to decide, so you won’t develop a reputation for overthinking everything.

I challenge you to take notice of your speed and energy this week and practice dialing it up or down, whichever is the least natural for you.