jump into solving the issue without fully understanding what someone else wants or needs. Plus, I'm used to solving problems. It's what I did in business. One of our executives nicknamed me the "fixer" with no problem too big or too small to resolve.
I was talking to my daughter the other day. She voiced some concerns, and I knew what she should do before she finished. Luckily I caught myself in the act of offering the answer, took a breath, listened a little longer, and then asked the #1 most important question.
So what's the question? Drum roll, please … “What happened?”
Asking questions is a simple practice. But, like many simple things, it's hard to do! Questions are great prompts, and any following questions to ask often naturally arise from the person's response to "What happened?" The essential key is listening fully instead of wandering off in your mind thinking about what you will say next, judging what they're saying, or waiting till they get to your already pre-determined solution.
If you find yourself automatically responding with a solution, catch yourself and say, "Well, that's my impression so far, but give me more details … what happened?" Or maybe your style is to say, "That sucks!" or some other commiserating statement. That's understandable. Just add, "What specifically happened?" and lean in to listen. If someone comes to me with a recurring problem, I don't say, "What happened this time?" That question is loaded with judgment. Instead, I might ask, "What's become clearer to you since last we spoke?"
Well-aimed questions are keys to unlocking the mind and heart. They are a powerful tool to connect with an individual or a team. Asking questions will surprise you at how they can start a conversation that often reveals the roots of a situation to allow someone to discover something new, including their own answer. Even if someone asks you for the solution, get more information first!
In my next Uplifting Mindset, I'll share the 20 most important questions a coach can ask to solve problems and resolve conflict. Experiment with the question, what happened, the next time someone comes to you with a problem, and kindly post any additional questions you think are enlightening.
Paulette Sun Davis