Closure is Overrated!

Closure is Overrated!

Excerpted with the permission of the authors from Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go

Question from Bob:  Would you like to add another highly effective “Leading with Questions” skill to your toolbox?  You will find the skill shared in this excerpt to be simple and profound!  And after you use it, will you please let me know how it worked?

Given this focus on asking questions, it bears repeating that you don’t have to have all the answers. Neither does the employee, for that matter. In fact, not having all the answers may actually drive more thought and energy.

According to Russian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik (in “The Retention of Completed and Uncompleted Actions,” which appeared in Psychological Research in 1927), we remember better what’s incomplete. The problem is that this lack of closure generates an internal tension for many. The mind, uncomfortable with what has been left unfinished, continues to focus on the question or problem.

So, what does this science have to do with helping your people grow? Many managers shy away from hard questions and conversations where they might not have all the answers. If you’re one of them, you don’t have to do that any longer. Quite the opposite . Go ahead and courageously ask the challenging questions and even end the conversation with a real tough or thought-provoking one that the employee can contemplate for a while.

Don’t feel the pressure to wrap up every conversation with a bow.


End your next meeting or conversation with a question.

Explain that there’s no time for a discussion, but that you’ve been thinking about it. The next time you are with that person or those people, ask if anyone remembers the question. You’ll be surprised that not only do they remember the question, they’ll also have quite a few answers for you.

Bev & Julie each have their own independent companies that offer an array of specialized products and services.
Beverly Kaye founded Career Systems International more than three decades ago to offer innovative ways to help organizations solve their greatest talent challenges by engaging, developing and retaining their people.

Julie Winkle Giulioni is the Co-Founder and Principal of DesignArounds, a bi-coastal consulting, training and development firm, committed to maximizing individual and organizational results through learning.

Which of your friends would thank you if you forwarded this post to them?

Related Topics

Join The Conversation

What People Are Saying

Maureen Weiss   |   26 August 2013   |   Reply

Powerful message to create strategic thinking and hopefully shorten the timeline when that become natural.

leadingwithquestions   |   27 August 2013   |   Reply

Thanks Maureen! Asking a final question when there is not time to discuss was a brand new thought for me! And it works!

Just another Mike   |   28 August 2013   |   Reply

Excellent post! I recently found this quote from The Coach Model to be freeing and challenging, “Nothing is more dangerous than an idea when it is the only one you have.”–Emile Chartier. It is ironic that sometimes answers get in the way of progress.

This idea reminds me of research that indicates one of the most effective ways to learn is to “fail.” Last year, Guy Kawasaki posted this study from France