How many times has one of your team mates said ‘I just can’t do this task!’? Have you often come back with ‘Of course you can’, or ‘Just try harder!’
Did it work? Most often, not. Why? Because most people will be able to justify any statement they make, and they habitually fall back into this negative state.
What’s interesting about how we communicate with each other is that our questions force our brains to find answers, even if they are impossible to find. So the quality of your questions will determine what and how a person thinks.
Take the previous example. If the person says ‘I just can’t do this task’, then ask them ‘what would it be like if you could?’ Their brain goes into autopilot to answer the question, and that means they are in a much more resourceful state to answer. They focus on the answer without even trying.
Of course, you need to build rapport first. And the best way to do that is to agree with their original statement, and then open up the question.
It goes something like this. They say ‘I just can’t do this task’. You reply, ‘Yes, it’s impossible, isn’t it. But what would happen if you could? What would it be like?”
Your initial agreement with them sets you up to lead them along to your next question. And because the brain is set up to answer questions, asking ‘what would it be like if you could?’ generates a different thinking mechanism, and helps the person approach the problem from a different perspective.
It may help them to find unique solutions as they approach it more positively.
“What if I could? Well, I’d be able to get more done, more quickly and with better results”
So, what we have to find is a way to get it done. And by approaching it from that more positive angle, the person feels more motivated to find the answers.
Create more motivation through better questions and you’ll get improved results, as your team members begin thinking through ideas for themselves. That can only be a good thing!
Originally published: 11 June, 2010