Closure is Overrated!

August 26th, 2013 | Coaching
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.



Julie Winkle Giulioni and Beverly Kaye


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.


Celebrating the 12th Anniversary of

All this week, we are celebrating the 12th Anniversary of with the release of my...

Celebrating the 12th Anniversary of

All this week we will be celebrating the 12th Anniversary of with “Excerpts:...

9 Questions Leaders With Emotional Intelligence Aren’t Afraid to Ask

Guest Post by Marcel Schwantes Originally posted on LinkedIn Emotional Intelligence (EQ) has been a...

Reporting Questions

Guest Post by Bobb Biehl Once your priorities (measurable problems, goals, opportunities) are clear, these...

13 CEOs Share Their Favorite Job Interview Questions

Interview questions: Everyone has them. And everyone wishes they had better...

15 Astute Questions To Ask Other Leaders

Guest Post By Indeed Editorial Team Previously posted at  Questions to Ask Leaders for Career...

Is It True?

Today - one day before Good Friday and 3 days before Easter - may I share with you the story of "3 Questions"...

3 thoughts on “Closure is Overrated!

  1. Maureen Weiss says:

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

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

  3. 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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.