Asking questions communicates respect and can inspire teams to become more independent problem solvers. The following is a conversation Jay had with one of our brightest and funniest clients.
Jay: “When you think about increasing your team’s ability to think through business and professional complications, what approach are you using? How is it working for you?”
Client: “Why do I have to explain everything to them fifteen times? They have a procedure manual and I’ve told them what to do. They just can’t think for themselves.” Client starts with derision.
Jay wondered: “What’s getting in their way of understanding what to do? Or is there just some reason they’re uncomfortable doing it?”
Client: “I pay them to do it. Why wouldn’t they just do it?” Client allows his frustration to take the lead.
Jay: “That is the question isn’t it. Why wouldn’t they?”
Client: “They’re stupid! They don’t care! They’re lazy!” He begins a well-rehearsed rant, but with a small smile of recognition breaking out on his face.
Jay: “All those are possible reasons, but is there some other reason you’re not seeing?”
Client: “Do you see something?” He challenges.
Jay: “I really don’t know what’s going on, so I would probably ask them if they know.”
Client: “Oh, you want me to ask one of those damn questions don’t you?” His statement is full of playful derision aimed at me.
Jay: “Only if you actually have something you’re really curious about.”
Client: With a grin, “I already know everything.”
Jay: “Then I must not be creating enough safety right now to allow you to admit what you don’t know and to consider other possibilities. I’m sorry,” Jay’s says with a grin back at him. “You have more experience with them, so I’m really asking, is there any possibility they can tell us what you might do differently?”
Client: In fake exasperation he challenges, “You’re such a pain. Why do I have to ask questions? Why can’t I just tell them what to do?”
Jay: “You already do that. How’s that working?”
Client: “Shut up!” He grins again.
Jay: “I’ve told you before to ask questions, but you don’t do it. Do you forget? Does your frustration push you to look for a quick solution or is there something else going on that I’m missing?”
Client: “Questions are your thing. I’m a teller.”
Jay: “I’m curious, how does telling encourage people to think? When I try it with you, you just resist.”
Client: “Your damn questions drive me crazy, but at least I have to think of an answer instead of just disagreeing.”
Jay: “So what do you think our next step should be?”
Client: “Alright! Alright! I’ll ask them some questions.”
Jay: “Any thoughts what you’ll ask them?”