Have you ever seen the PBS show “America’s Test Kitchen”? I love the show. It is a cooking show where, among other things, they make a recipe hundreds of ways, trying different techniques at different steps to try to get the best outcome with the least effort. And I mean literally hundreds of times. So when they present a recipe it has been thoroughly tested so that each step in the preparation adds to the outcome.
I saw an interview with Christopher Kimball the other day. He is the head guy at America’s Test Kitchen. He was discussing the process of developing recipes. He said that their research showed that most people don’t follow recipes precisely. They often skip steps or just do things generally like the recipe says. For example, maybe they won’t bother refrigerating the mixture for 30 minutes between steps.
This presented a problem for ATK. Since they test the recipes so carefully, each step is important in achieving the desired outcome. What ATK discovered is that if you explain the reason why each step exists, people are more likely to follow the recipe accurately.
That is one of the fascinating things about the show. As they show you how to make a recipe they explain the reason for each action, for each step. Because of that you can understand the importance of each part of the process.
This is an idea we should integrate into our daily lives more. Why? (clever, huh?) Because too often we dismiss what others say as unimportant because we don’t understand the reason behind it. Often times worse, we attribute the wrong reason to the behavior. This can lead to hurt feelings, missed opportunities and other negative outcomes.
I’ve used those words too often and I bet you have, too. “It should have been obvious” or “How could you not have known why?” But despite my constant complaint about this issue, people are NOT mind readers. I absolutely believe they should be, but until they are, it falls on us to communicate in ways that work.
Why not make your words more powerful? When you ask for something or give instructions, explain the reasoning behind it. Help the person you are communicating with understand the motivation for your words or actions. They may not agree with you, but at least they’ll make an informed response. Don’t let them guess why…tell them why!