Watch Your Speed When Working with Others

June 1st, 2020 by Shaun McNerney Leave a reply »

A long time ago, I was visiting a friend and we decided to go to a restaurant. I didn’t know where the restaurant was and we needed to take separate cars. My friend said, “No problem. Just follow me.”

So we started going along and he was driving like he always drives – pretty fast and aggressive. I was driving like I always drive – moderately fast and aggressive (OK, maybe cautiously slow). Right away he zoomed through a yellow light leaving me behind. So, here I am in an unfamiliar town, unsure where we are going, feeling lost. My friend, on the other hand, was at the restaurant, wondering where I am, upset that I didn’t keep up.

The point of this story is that when you’re leading an individual or a group – to a restaurant or a business idea – it is critical that you match your speed to theirs. Don’t try to lead faster than they can go.

Simply stated, here is a process that works for me:

  1. Determine their speed
  2. Match your speed to theirs
  3. Watch your speed (don’t lose them)


Determine their speed
When working with others try to determine their speed as quickly as possible. As you discuss new concepts observe how fast they absorb the idea. Did they get the idea immediately? Do they need some time to think it through?

Match your speed to theirs
There are two cases here – you either need to slow down or speed up.

If you’re leading the discussion, chances are you need to slow down. For some, taking it slow can be frustrating. But, it is better to take it slow and make progress than to go nowhere fast.

If you’re leading the discussion and need to speed up, then you have to prepare. Go into the meeting with all your thoughts in order. Be brief and concise as you lead the group to the destination.

Watch your speed (don’t lose them)
The concept here is simple – arrive at the destination together.

If you are a consultant, you are probably an expert in your field. Your speed is likely many times faster than the speed of your clients. It is important that you don’t lose your clients when discussing new concepts or ideas. This is a perfect time to slow down and match your client’s speed.

If you are an employee, you need to work well with others. By matching your speed to that of your peers, managers, and subordinates you will be able to build strong working relationships.

Watching your speed when you work with others is a simple but powerful concept. Working together at the same speed will build strong relationships. Working together at mismatched speeds will eventually destroy relationships.

So, how fast do you go?

Shaun McNerney


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