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Insights / January 30, 2018

Show Your Work

By Liz Tupper

A few years back, I was sitting in my son’s 1st-grade conference when his teacher said she wanted him to start showing his work when solving math problems. My son was solving everything in his head. The answers were almost always right, but he wasn’t easily able to tell people how he solved the problems. The default answer when asked “how did you do that?” was “my brain did it.”

With his teacher’s encouragement, he started showing his work even if he quickly solved the problem in his head. Move forward a few years, and he is now teaching several students how to learn math. Incredible!

This same rule applies to good communication in business. Sometimes we make a decision or give an answer when we should also show our work or explain how we came to our conclusion. This will not only help with efficiency in communication; it will also help build confidence in your answers.

This week, when making a decision or responding to questions, try showing your work by explaining how you came to make that decision. It could be as simple as talking through something in more detail or whiteboarding out your reasoning. I think you will be surprised the clarity it will bring.