“You are not going to like this…”

As a founder, one of the most important things you can do for your team is create certainty.

And 99 times out of 100, no matter how volatile the environment, there’s a way to do that.  The truth is, most founders miss opportunities to create certainty in every conversation.

Want an example?

Silicon Valley CEO coach Matt Mochary says, whenever he has to let someone go, he starts by saying: “Hey, this is going to be a difficult conversation. Take a few seconds and prepare yourself. You are not going to enjoy this.”

Seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it. Your instinct is to “soften the blow.”

But, more than anything, the amygdala of the brain gets triggered by surprise. So if you’re talking about the weather but your body language is tense, the other person is not even hearing your words. They’re focused on trying to predict “what’s coming.”

When you let their amygdala know what’s coming, it knows to prepare — for fear or anger or sadness — and it doesn’t get nearly as triggered.

That’s why, paradoxically, research studies show people prefer the certainty of bad news over an unknown outcome, even if it might be positive.

Dealing with threats trumps getting rewards.

So, as a leader, you want to ask yourself: “What uncertainty can I eliminate for my team/this person?”

Sometimes it’s as simple as making the implicit explicit:

  • “I have some unpleasant news to tell you.”
  • “Here’s what I can tell you now. I’ll know more Thursday.”
  • “We’re dealing with a lot of uncertainty, this is going to be a tough month.”

When you do that, you help them:

  • shift out of self-protection
  • manage their emotions
  • and feel more in control

That gives you access to their best thinking, which helps you make better decisions and leads to better outcomes.

Want to build a more resilient team? Learn how to create certainty.

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