Did you know one of my favorite techniques to teach people is “Ask, don’t tell”? (My clients call it “ADT”.) Sounds funny, doesn’t it? It means “ask the person a sincere question; don’t just keep telling them your opinion.”
When you are trying to help someone see your point-of-view, when you’re trying to get someone to see beyond their own opinion, or to agree with you, asking a question, then another question that builds on their answer, is a quick, clever, and very polite way to get their minds to start opening up, and maybe changing.
ADT is also one of my go-to methods when I absolutely must calm down and get my frustration or anxiety under control. Pausing to ask a question is what does the trick.
If you’d like to strengthen your self-awareness, self-leadership, and resilience, “Ask them; don’t tell them” helps form every one of those skills in you. Pausing to form a question means you’ve paused, and we know how essential the pause is in bringing your best cognitive brain into the conversation. Pausing helps you settle yourself into a calm, aware state and to take a micro-second to restate to yourself what you are best intending happen in this conversation. Pausing is an essential self-leadership technique, and “Ask, don’t tell” (ADT) is what to do when you pause.
Now, three new potent questions have come on the scene. Imagine a crucial conversation with your boss after a client meeting and you’re asking for feedback….. imagine a crucial conversation with a co-worker when you’re earnestly – finally – trying hard to cultivate teamwork. Imagine yourself asking these questions:
- “How can I do better next time?”
- “What am I doing that I don’t even know I’m doing?”
- “What am I not doing that I don’t see?”
Those potent, beautiful questions work just as well with your husband or your estranged sister…
These questions are courtesy of Sheryl Sandberg, in her 2013 book Lean In, page 83. I recommend all the other pages too.
Have you had a chance to read Sandberg‘s book? What do you think of her three questions? Please leave a comment.
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