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The Critical Thinker SM

PURE & SIMPLESM Critical Thinking Tips Used By Winners

Issue 3/09

No Motherhood
Statements please!
You have heard them time and again… Do you want to solve world hunger?
“Do it as soon as possible” Let’s turn our attention next to the “Morale and Sales
problems”. Trying to solve them, even singly, is like trying to
“Reply at your earliest convenience”
solve world hunger. You can’t!
“The morale problem”
What exactly does “Morale Problem” mean? Are people
“The sales problem” resigning from your organization? Maybe they are not achieving
targets? Or perhaps you’ve found the company’s newsletter in
The list goes on… the trash can? All these are separate problems and must be
Yes, there could be valid reasons for making these statements treated as such, even though there might be a cause-and-effect
– such as when you are in a negotiation, and making broad, relationship between them. It’s obviously easier to address the
generalized statements could provide you with more leverage staff turnover problem, say among administrative staff, than it is
later on in the process. Or, you are in a situation where you to address the all too common “morale problem” – it allows us
deliberately want to leave it to your audience to in interpret the to ask critical “What”, “Where”, “When” & “How” questions.
message you are putting across. The later is often true of leaders. Similarly, the “sales problem”, on further questioning, could
If you have observed Barack Obama closely, you will notice that often end up being specific and separate problems, such as:
he’s a master, a fact noted by his supporters and opponents! • Below forecast sales of product X in Western region
However, if you have to follow through or respond to the
• High rate of returned canned goods in Toa Payoh
four statements listed above, it is not going to be a simple as it
looks. • Sales people are still in the office at 12noon when they
should be out in the field by 10am
When is “As soon as possible?” Today? Next week? Often it
depends on who is making the request. • Orders taken by sales people in the day are not logged
If it’s the big boss, most people would do it immediately, in the CRM system by 9.30am the next day
dropping other tasks, regardless of what they might be and how The need to be specific, to the point, crystal clear, is
critical they are. But if it is not, and you happen to be the fundamental to addressing and resolving issues effectively. Our
requesting party, your instructions will not be clearly observation is that we tend to speak in generalities because, if
understood. To compound the problem, most people are too we are not careful, we can invariably talk ourselves into a tight
polite to seek clarification, especially when you are the boss! spot; we are concerned about “pinning ourselves down”.
I have many “Reply at your earliest convenience” emails, But in terms of effectiveness, this approach is often counter-
letters and faxes which remain unattended because it’s still not productive. Beating round the bush is like chasing one’s own
convenient for me – to reply. tail. You don’t get anywhere!
Be specific not pushy! Einstein was right: If the man or woman in the street doesn’t
You can be specific in your requests, without being pushy or understand what you are saying, you probably don’t understand
bossy. For example, you can say, “To ensure that your deadline it yourself. So nomotherhood statements. Please!
is met, I will need your reply by Friday next week,” or, “I will, if
The Critical ThinkerSM is produced by DPI Asia, the Asian operations of Decision Processes
it is convenient with you, follow through with my proposal on International, a global management consulting and human capital development firm
Monday, 24 February.” specializing in critical thinking processes that help organizations transform the way they
conduct their business.
And on your part, make sure that you do follow through on It is an insightful yet light-hearted series of articles that take a PURE & SIMPLESM look at the
Monday, 24 February, because he/she will be expecting you to essential day-to-day aspects of critical thinking that separate winners from the rest.
do so! To obtain more articles register for our blog at or


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