Skip Intro: Efficiency is not Effectiveness

I noticed the Skip Intro button for the first time this week while watching Netflix’s Stranger Things 2. After the first scene of the show, the opening credits roll, and the button appears. I pressed it and continued the episode.

I thought about how often leaders choose to press the same button.

Perhaps an employee steps into the office and begins to speak, and her leader interrupts her with his own story. What did that leader miss by pressing skip intro? The employee leaves disappointed, or frustrated, or angry or several other possibilities that don’t include believing her leader cares much about her or her problem. But the leader saved time when he pressed skip intro.

We sit down in a client’s office and jump directly to pitching our product or services or guess what we think he needs. We miss connecting with him, understanding what’s on his mind, and working on rapport. We walk out of the office with both parties worse off. We lose the opportunity to help that client, and he loses the benefit of our talents. But we saved time when we pressed skip intro.

When we try to solve a problem, we press skip intro and jump into brainstorming solutions. We miss the context, the nuance, the problem behind the problem. We spin our wheels working on the wrong thing for a while, eventually finding our way back to the real issue. But we saved time when we pressed skip intro.

We send an invitation to a one-on-one meeting with a direct report without explaining the reason, using a vague term like catch up. The employee accepts without question and worries for a day about the topic before arriving at our office. We tell the employee they are being promoted and sit there surprised when they react with relief but not happiness at the news. But we saved time by pressing skip intro and burying the lead.

As leaders and communicators, our ability to influence and deliver our message considerably improve when we choose effectiveness before efficiency. Pressing skip intro while connecting with technology may make perfect sense. That is rarely the case with people.

Takeaway: Take the time to connect, listen reflectively, understand fully, and walk out of the room leaving others and yourself better off for having taken the time to be effective in the moment.