What would be different in the world if we stopped “telling” when arguing our different views and instead, “asked” questions and responded with meaningful conversation?
I believe we would learn more of what we agree upon and the need to argue about our differences would be greatly decreased. With so much divisiveness in our nation and the world, gaining good negotiation skills could bring the peace we ALL desire.
The best negotiators ask questions first to discover common ground, then work from there to get closer to what each person really wants and can agree on.
Maybe you’re wondering: “If I don’t tell people what I want, then I might not get what I want.” So where is the line between asking good questions and getting what I want? GREAT QUESTION!
The question assumes there is a difference between what is wanted/needed and what is being given. Here’s an example to bring this idea home.
We all have primary and secondary wants. A manager overseeing a team must insure a quality outcome for the production of the company’s goods. There are two different groups with primary unique wants and needs.
The manager primarily wants and expects quality outcomes. The outcomes the manager wants affect company profitability.
The team primarily wants to be paid for their work while feeling job satisfaction. These primary expectations can be the beginning of conflict because by their very nature they are opposite sides of same coin…money.
The secondary wants and needs begin to find more shared interests like job security, pride in a job well done, recognition, and satisfaction. These secondary wants/needs often are forgotten when the primary wants are challenged.
Takeaway: No matter the circumstance, two opposing needs/wants are always at the root of a disagreement. Often they end with unresolved conflict unless we begin with good questions to discover what we really want and can agree on.
So what SHOULD you do?
BEGIN by knowing what you WANT–and who is responsible to give it!
First take care of your own needs instead of waiting for others to take care of them.
In our example of the manager accomplishing quality outcomes this doesn’t mean: “Do it myself if I want it done right.” Instead, it means, take responsibility to insure the team has what they need to do their best work.
Takeaway: The manager must ask questions of the team all through the production process. Not questions, checking in with progress, but rather questions to determine their needs to insure a quality outcome. A quality outcome is met when he or she asks the right questions of the team.
BOTH primary and secondary needs are met in this way. It builds trust to know someone cares about our needs.
Second, if I take personal responsibility for getting my needs met then I will have more energy and focus for dealing with the challenges most effectively. Where focus is directed when things go wrong? The need to blame and have someone else take full responsibility for a poor outcome points back at the manager not prioritizing self care with a balanced approach to others doing the same. In the example of our manager accomplishing outcomes through a team, this doesn’t mean slacking off and allowing sub par outcomes to keep everyone appeased.
It means setting the example of a high bar for personal stress management, and giving the same opportunity to the team.
Takeaway: The manager must insure a balance in the secondary wants or needs that all team members have when addressing challenges. Everyone wants to be proud of their work and know that it matters. It’s okay to assume that about most people. Ask questions to discover solutions that avoid future challenges. This can only happen when trust exists and all members of the team are calm and collected.
Each person is responsible for his or her health and self care.
It’s kind of like taking my oxygen first…
Consider the instructions by the flight attendant before a plane can take off. The FFA requires all passengers to be informed that in the event of a disaster, “Take your oxygen firaskst before helping someone next to you.” There is good reason for this. It’s impossible to help others when you are weak and dying from lack of oxygen needed to survive. By taking the one step to first put your own oxygen mask on, you stay strong to help in whatever way you are called upon.
Takeaway: Our needs are not met by others.
Wrapping it up!
There are different ways to ask questions; questions that drive a point and questions out of curiosity. For more on “How” to ask good questions, read my blog: The Most Powerful Tool Every Entrepreneur Must Learn
Managers are paid more than team members because they have shown an aptitude for working smarter, not harder. They must accomplish more by activating and motivating their team. The skill of asking questions lead to meaningful conversations and solutions and will accomplish the wants and needs of everyone.
Begin with what you agree on, then continue from a place of ONLY controlling what you can…YOURSELF….and finally, proceeding with good questions.
Now it’s your turn:
In your next meeting, look for the opportunities to ask good questions, then come back to tell me what happened!