Communications: Should You Be Firm Or Flexible?

Shawn Casemore • 2 Comment
Posted: March 4, 2013

In my work with executives and business leaders I’m often ask how firm one should be in their discussions with others. On one hand, being too firm can lead to closed discussions and ultimately reduce team morale. On the other hand however, being too flexible sends a message of weakness, and what leader wants to be seen as weak?

So then which is the better approach? Stand firm and appear confident, or be flexible and risk being seen as a push-over?

The answer is to be both firm and flexible.


As a leader you should consider your approach to each discussion and interaction like an apothecary scale, shifting your approach between firm and flexible depending on the flow of the discussions. To help with this, consider these questions during such discussions:

1. How strong are my beliefs (and position) relative to this discussion?

2. Does the other individuals view(s) have merit? How can I use this in conjunction with my own position to achieve a desired outcome?

3. What opportunities exist to alter my position?

4. How quickly do I want to bring this discussion to an end, or would I prefer to extend the discussions?

5. How will I follow up in the event my first attempt and approach does not achieve my desired outcomes?

You see you can apply firmness and flexibility not only to improve your interaction outcomes, but also to drive the pace and quality of each discussion.

So, be aware of how others are interpreting your approach and strategically balance your application of both firmness and flexibility and you will find your outcomes will be achieved much quicker and more effectively than ever before.

© Shawn Casemore 2013. All rights reserved.


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