“Diplomacy is the art of letting others have your way.” – Daniele Vare
When my older son (technically my stepson) T., was around 12 or 13, we got an email from one of his teachers informing us that he had been clowning around, talking too much, and otherwise being disruptive in class – a trend that needed to stop.
That evening when he came home, my husband Larry sat down with him at the table to have a chat about it. But before too long, T got loud and defensive, stormed up to his room and closed the door.
I gave him a few minutes to cool off, then went upstairs and tapped on the door.
“Can I come in?” I asked.
“Yeah,” came the muffled and unenthusiastic reply.
I entered to see him sitting on his bed, arms and legs crossed, and a scowl on his face.
“You okay?” I inquired, and sat at the foot of his bed.
“Want to talk about it?”
“No.” (You can see where this conversation was headed.)
“Okay, no problem,” I said. “Just out of curiosity, when your dad brought it up, did he seem mad?”
“No… I guess not,” he mumbled.
“Did he yell?”
“Did he tell your (biological) mother?”
“If he had, would that have made it worse?”
I paused briefly to let it all sink in.
“Okay,” I shrugged. “Well, if you change your mind and want to talk, you know where to find me.”
I went back down to the kitchen to start preparing dinner, where Larry was at the table reading.
A few minutes later, T came downstairs and entered the kitchen.
“Dad, I’m sorry I yelled. You were just trying to talk to me and I was a brat. Thanks for not telling mom I got in trouble. I won’t do it again.” Then he hugged his dad and left the room.
My husband turned and looked at me, incredulous, as if to say, “Did you see that? Was that the same kid from 15 minutes ago? What the heck got into him?!”
I just smiled and went back to making dinner.
Sometimes asking just the right questions can get us infinitely further toward our ultimate influence goal than formulating the most articulate argument.
And it’s not just about asking “leading” questions (although that can be extremely effective, as I described above). Sometimes it’s about asking the right open-ended, fact-finding questions, to help shed light on an issue, and change our own perspective.
Yet ironically, our educational system, society, and most jobs seem to have placed more value on knowing and providing answers than on seeking them. So it often feels counterintuitive when we realize that asking the right questions helps us make an even greater impact as a human being and as a leader.
That’s why in this week’s podcast , Crystal Ashby, Executive Vice-President and Chief People Officer, Independence Health Group, digs deeper into how asking good questions not only makes interesting and meaningful conversations, but more importantly develops trust.
As Chief People Officer, Crystal’s role is focused on providing opportunities for her team as well as empowering them to find their own ways to shine, especially in today’s “new normal.”
Listen in as we discuss forecasting and reimagining a hybrid workforce, providing equal opportunities to remote and in-person team members, and how great leaders teach their direct reports to advocate for themselves and solve problems before stepping in.
Here’s to your success,
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