Executive nurse managers, as well as other nurse managers, spend much time responding verbally to people. Whether or not their responses are effective in these situations remains an unexplored area in nursing administration. The author describes a research-based framework to analyse managerial actions. Five types of actions, three non-exploratory and two exploratory, were identified through previous research using Orlando's theory as the framework. Subsequent research suggests nurses prefer that their managers use exploratory action. The article contains discussion on how specific types of actions facilitate or thwart problem identification.