Many people ask me how they can help their dear ones without being too intrusive. It’s natural for us to be willing to help others, especially when we see a possible solution that the person in question doesn’t seem to notice. Learning to keep my mouth shut when not asked for a piece of advice and to ask explorative questions instead of providing an answer were probably the two most powerful skills that made me an appreciated personal development guide. Let’s look at how both sides win from asking questions.
There is a brilliant video that in less than 2 minutes illustrates very well the psychology of providing solutions. Many of our challenges come from our own behaviors and thought patterns. So to truly solve the challenge, we need to rewire our brain. That doesn’t happen if someone just pops up in our experience and provides the solution on a silver platter.
Think about finances. If you have a sibling who is in deep debt due to their gaming habits, you covering their debt might solve the current problem but doesn’t protect your sibling from getting into debt again. Likewise, if your colleague is wasting their time on non-essentials at work, you cannot just suggest them the optimal way of managing their time.
So, how asking the right questions is more productive than giving prepared answers? Here are some insights.
What is your goal?
Whenever you want to serve someone a solution to their problem on a silver platter, ask yourself “What’s my goal here?” Do you want to be right or do you want to see a change? You might be having an impulse of showing your supremacy by pointing out the person’s flaws. If that is the case, I highly recommend to work on yourself first, to strengthen your self-esteem and not have the need to correct the others to feel good about yourself.
If your goal is to help the other person, dig a bit geeper and explore whether you want to help with the current issue or in long-term. Think “Do I want to pay off their debt or help them change their behavior to not get into debt in the first place?”
Speak the same language.
When a person is in a challenging situation, emotions are often dominant. For you as an observer, the solution might be obvious. Yet, the person cannot see the logical solution as long as they stay on the emotional level of the issue. The most help from you will be acknowledging the emotional part of the challenge. Often, when facing an adversity, we feel alone – noone else is experiencing the same and noone understands us. By your acknowledging their emotions, you are lifting a huge weight off their shoulders. Only when the emotions are worked through can you start a more constructive, solution-oriented discussion.
Sell the solution.
You know what differentiates good salespeople from the rest? They ask questions. And asking better questions makes good salespeople great. When willing to help a person find a solution to their issue, think about yourself as a great salesman. You are selling the solution, and in order to do so successfully, the other party has to understand their need of the solution and be ready to invest in getting it.
This concept is valid for personal dvelopment just as much as for selling physical products. I sell the idea of a better life quality to my clients. I can be the best coach in the world, but it’s my clients who have to do the work, for the real transformation to happen. So I need to help them understand their need and ask for a solution. And whenever the flame of motivation is dying out, I am there to remind them of their dream and help them to keep moving towards it.
So which questions can you ask to help the person find a solution? In the investigation part of the process, you are a guide, and your questions should be guiding as well. Guiding questions provide open-ended support and help the person get curious about the solution search. These questions are not prescriptive and accomodate the other party’s moving to higher levels of thinking. For example, instead of asking “Why don’t you [insert a solution]?”, go for “Why do you think you [name their challenge]?” and go several layers deeper into the Why’s.
If you are willing to improve at asking the right questions – for yourself, your emplyoees, family members and friends – book a free discovery call to see whether I can help you.
With all my love and care,