“Telling creates resistance. ASKING CREATES RELATIONSHIPS” — Andrew Sobel Client Relationships and Author of Power Questions
1.“What’s going well?
2. “What’s not?”
3. “Where are you stuck?”
4. What needs to change?”
He shares that the order above is very important, and starting with “What is going well?” is absolutely essential. In fact, he will spend half of the time on question one, because the time he spends cheering their successes is what creates a safe environment for asking questions 2 through 4.
Mark Miller, VP of Training and Development at Chick-fil-A, shares this interesting story:
Years ago, the president of our company stopped me in the hallway and asked a rather jarring question:
“How do you add value around here?”
I had no answer prepared. In the moment, I said the first thing that came to my mind: “I ask challenging questions.” He responded, “Keep it up,” and walked off. Ever since that moment, I’ve considered it part of my job description as a leader – not just to ask challenging questions, but also to ask the right questions.
So what is your answer? How do you add value?
Has your team ever gotten stuck in brainstorming what might be the best possible ways forward? Do you have a backup question that will instantly get them un-stuck?
Here it is:
“How can we do this (whatever your team needs to do) in a way that will guarantee its failure?”
Your team will invariably not only begin to answer – but they will also enjoy this almost comic exercise.
After they have compiled a sure-fire list of how to guarantee failure, then ask item by item:
“What, then, do we need to do to guarantee success?”
For example, your staff lists “Do not make any follow-up calls” as one of the things that will guarantee failure. So you ask, “If not making any follow-up calls will guarantee failure, what will we need to do to guarantee success?”
Here is mine:
“Would you please tell me your story?”
I used to ask about their family or their job. Those are not bad questions, unless they are in the middle of a difficult family situation or perhaps have just been laid off. Asking them to share their story gives them complete freedom to answer in whatever way seems best to them. You may find they are also likely to share things you would have never dared to ask.
It is one of the most effective questioning tools you can use. Ask your question and then give the person the gift of silence. Give the person time to think and formulate their response. You would be wise to not interrupt their thinking process with words. He or she is thinking; and because you might be uncomfortable with the silence, you are tempted to re-ask the question, state it in another way, or to ask a related question. Please don’t! Be still; focus your kind attention on them, relax, and wait.
Your silence is, in fact, a question.
The good news is they will answer, and often the longer the silence, the more thoughtful the response will be.
Helping you win is my only goal!
There are no hidden motives!
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