4 better questions when people are stuck
You’ll have noticed how people complain about things without realizing what they are doing. Once started, they don’t know how to stop complaining.
When asked about a solution, it’s built on their complaint and as such it’s not likely to happen. At its worst, think Kyoto climate ‘agreement’ – the people with a vision to change things only know how to complain about those with a different perspective. They get stuck in their complaint and, as a result, little changes.
How do we help people who are stuck move forward?
In our efforts to help people we some times ask questions that may or may not be helpful to them. As Marie Goldberg said, ‘A powerful question changes all thinking and behaving afterwards’.
If we change the language and framework of our questions we can help people speed up progress, often right away.
Typical question – Why can’t you fix this problem?
Better question – Suppose the problem went away and things were better, what would be happening instead? How would that work for others?
Why? Helps them see where they want to get to and, importantly, be open to listening and create ideas to make progress.
Statistics suggest that when customers complain, business owners and managers ought to get excited about it. The complaining customer represents a huge opportunity for more business.Zig Ziglar
Typical question – How do you propose to fix the problem?
Better question – Suppose things were working, what would you have done to make that happen? What might others have done to help you?
Why? Helps them see what they might do to get moving?
Typical question, when they blame others – How do you propose to get them to change their ways?
Better question – Suppose they were helping you, what small things would they be doing to help (e.g., listening)? Suppose they saw you doing small things to help them, (e.g., listening), what would they first see you doing to help them?
Why? Helps them open up to possibilities by seeing what they need to do to make things happen?
Typical question about changing a habit – Why don’t you just stop doing it?
Better question – When is the habit not present? Suppose you did more of that, what would you be doing instead of the habit?
Why? Get them to think of what they want instead.
Don’t look for earth-shattering changes, just help them speed up progress towards what they actually want.