But, my advice (and my modeling) to these help seekers always starts this way:
Begin by asking questions. And, ask those questions from a truly curious perspective.
Some dos of asking questions:
- Start with question stems like "What..." and "How..."
- Be fully present and attentive when asking. Ask, look, pause, listen.
- Use words or phrases you hear in their responses in your next questions.
- Counter feelings of anger/aggression with increased curiosity and openness.
- Nest all questions in a mindset of continuous improvement.
- Always thank others for helping you get a better grasp of the issue through their time, their input, and their thinking (whether you like what you heard from them or not).
Some don'ts of asking questions:
- Don't interrogate; gently inquire.
- Don't use "Why..." as the question stem. (It sounds and feels judgmental.)
- Don't immediately jump to conclusions, start issuing directives, or make up new rules.
- Avoid divining solutions until you've asked several questions of several people.
Some benefits of asking questions:
- The better questioner you become, the better listener you'll become.
- Relational capital is directly proportional to curiosity prowess.
- Problems tend to house their own solutions, but only when we reflectively and collaboratively begin to dissect them. Questions are the lab tools of dissection.
- Others almost always feel more valued when (honestly) asked for feedback, input, perspective, ideas, thinking.
- Getting smarter is a by product of asking good questions.
Some sample questions:
- What do I need to know before tackling this problem?
- Who else should I talk to that can help me gain deeper insight into this issue?
- How might we proceed without creating additional burdens on others?
- What might I hear from Bob/Betty/So&So when I ask about this?
- What should I be asking that I haven't yet?
- What questions do you have for me?