25 ways to make yourself unpopular: #3 Provide too little information

If you really want to make yourself unpopular, then not providing enough information is a sure-fire way of going about it. Whether you’re a teacher, say, advising your Principal, or a consultant advising your client, you need to provide sufficient information – whether you’ve been asked for it or not.

The reason is simple: people don’t know what they don’t know. If you’re in the position of an expert giving them advice, you need to make sure you fill in the gaps – the gaps that they didn’t even realise were there. Why is it that in court you have to swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, etc? Because if you give only partial information, you’re being inaccurate when you take the situation as a whole, regardless of the accuracy of the individual details.

I regard information in the same way as I regard road signs and traffic reports: it’s essential to enable me to navigate the route safely. And when I say “information”, I mean information, not just data. In other words, if I’ve employed a consultant to advise me, I expect to receive their expert interpretation and guidance, not just the facts and figures. Because if I knew enough about it, or had the time to interpret it all myself, I wouldn’t have needed that consultant in the first place!

So what might be a practical example? Well, suppose your Principal says “I’m thinking of allocating some money to buying some interactive whiteboards. Do you think product X is a good option?”

The accurate and strictly factual answer may well be “Yes”. A better answer might be “Yes, but we have a different product already, so there would be training and licensing issues if we bought X”, or “Yes, but at the forthcoming BETT show there will be more advanced boards being unveiled by several whiteboard manufacturers, using newer technologies, so we ought to look at them before making any decisions.”

You would certainly not be thanked for letting the Principal go ahead and spend a small fortune on a product which she may not have chosen had she been in full possession of the facts – facts which you, as ICT teacher or consultant, might reasonably be expected to know.

You may also enjoy the other posts in the 25 ways to make yourself unpopular series.