Theresa Lear Levine picture

Why making people wait promotes healthy boundaries and leaderships

It may seem counterintuitive. I know that as a perfectionist and a long-time business owner and everything else I have always felt like, I gotta answer people right away.

If I don’t, they’re not going to think I care about them, or they’re gonna think somebody else could do it better than I can. And, I was constantly attached to my phone or my emails or whatever else trying to get back to people. And it was the same thing I would feel sometimes with parenting.

If my kids asked me a question, I felt like I needed to be able to answer it right away so that they knew that they were loved and they knew that I cared. And they knew that I was there and I had their back, and we were gonna… I would have answers for them and be the answer provider.

And that is so not what I want to be. Even after years of doing it and being it… I don’t think it’s what any of us want to be. None of us want to be like the FAQ section.

And that’s why so many things in places that we go to have an FAQ section so that the people that run those places don’t have to always answer the questions.

Now, I’m not saying there aren’t questions that we have to answer in life or that we should be answering to other people. But have you ever noticed that maybe you get a quick question about something and you ask somebody?

But if they don’t get back to you right away, you usually find the answer yourself. Unless you’re like super needy independent. Don’t be super needy, independent.

And that’s what I started to realize as I would and it was uncomfortable. But sometimes I would get a message from somebody, and I was like, this is already totally available information. If they would just google it if they would just look it up if they would just go to the places that I’ve already shared with them, to find the information, you know with my kids would be like if they would just think about like what we already talked about this or if they would just go inside themselves for a little bit of, intuition or guidance or pray on it or whatever else. Then they are going to come to the conclusion on their own.

And that is how we develop leaders.

We don’t develop leaders by giving people all the answers. That does not promote anything except people that just, keep coming to you to ask questions, and that could be a real drain on your energy. But you teach people how to treat you this way.

So even though it’s sometimes uncomfortable, if my kids will come to me with something, sometimes they need to know like, hey, mom is busy working right now are making dinner right now or whatever.

Happy to help you with that in, 45 minutes or something. And that’s kind of how I sometimes have to handle it when it’s in person or with my kids.

Sometimes I’ll remind them, “hey, you know, why don’t you see what you can find out?” Sometimes I don’t even need to because in that time if it’s something that they really wanted to happen right then and there, they’re gonna be that go-getter. They’re going to figure out how they’re going to do it themselves.

Then when 45 minutes comes and I asked them oftentimes like oh, yeah, I already figured that out. And the same thing happens with, you know, customers and clients and things. If you’re working with people that are always coming to you for that, and you know that it’s not like an urgent thing. I obviously don’t ever ignore something that’s an emergency situation or that really does need your attention.

But if it’s something that you know, the answer is out there, then it’s actually a kindness to make people wait to see what they do when they have to sit with that discomfort of wanting a question answered.

Are they going to figure it out for themselves? Are they going to become the leader? They need to be for themselves in their life by seeking out the answers wherever they need to. It’s a beautiful, wonderful, powerful thing to learn to seek out answers even when they don’t seem readily available.

So it’s ok to make people wait every now and then knowing that you are developing amazing skills in them while they stay with it.