Archive for the ‘therapy’ category

Do You Settle for Easy Answers or Address the Tough Stuff?

July 30, 2014

Good questions will cure almost any relational ailment you may have, but some of the most insightful questions can be some of the hardest to ask.

Ask hard questions

Ask hard questions

 What Does It Cost You to Avoid Asking the Tough Questions?

In my work in the last few weeks, I have noticed how often people avoid asking the potentially difficult questions and as a result, settle for answers that are inaccurate, but comfortable to hear and deal with.  For example, the lack of really getting to the “bottom of things,” has (unnecessarily) left:

  • A leader thinking his team is following him, rather than discussing his replacement,
  • Another leader suspicious of an employee’s motives, not realizing how loyal the employee actually is,
  • A young boy wrongfully accused of an action resulting in  a smeared reputation,
  •  A damaged relationship with two people thinking that there is no hope of reconciliation,
  • A religious group mobilizing and killing innocent civilians based on inaccurate news reports and propaganda

Jumping to conclusions before gathering all of the information seems to be some of the best exercise we get.  I am guilty of it too, but am learning (sometimes the hard way) to slow down and just ask a few more questions before acting on faulty information.

What Questions Should You Ask?

My husband Roger, is a huge fan of murder-mystery and law TV shows. He enjoys watching the process of uncovering the deeper truth in a variety of situations.  Many times these shows imply an obvious choice for who the killer is, however; Roger knows that if the killer is revealed within the first thirty minutes of a one-hour show, it isn’t the real killer. Accepting assumptions and arriving at conclusions to early, puts you in the position of having to defend your potentially baseless conclusion…forever.


 How often to we settle for what seems so obvious, and yet, is completely inaccurate?       Here are a couple of phrases you may think or hear someone say, that would indicate not enough information has been gathered:

  • “Want to know why he does that/made that decision/acts that way?”
  • “Well, she just thinks that….”
  • “I heard…..”
  • “It seems to me….”
  • ” You made that choice because you think…”

The next time you find yourself in a difficult or controversial situation, ask yourself, “Is there possibly more information that I am not aware of?  Could there be more than what is obvious? Have I asked enough detail questions to really get to the truth? Is there a gap in the story I am telling myself?   Would it be wrong to become a Serial Skeptic?

Serial Skepticism


One of my favorite authors, Mark Stevens*, writes

We are all exposed to data, factoids, theories, and axioms ad nauseam. All presented as science, the absolute truth, unassailable. And if you are like most managers, you make business decisions based on this “body of knowledge.” This is where you part company with the warriors.  They recognize instinctively that once any form of thinking becomes “the absolute truth” it is baked, dried up, passe, fini. And then they challenge it.  They put it under a spotlight. They examine it it through a microscope.  This determination to challenge what others accept as the truth (think of it as Serial Skepticism) is often a powerful way to achieve breakthrough and sustainable success…. Why? Because while your peers are making decisions based on faith, you are insisting on proof. And that often leads to the truth.

* excerpt from the book, "Your Management Sucks," 
  Crown Publishers 2006

You Can’t See Motive, So Don’t Guess What It Is – Ask!

Here are a few more question starters to help you dig out truth about  what motivates someone to act a certain way.

  • “Tell me more about….”
  • “What are your thoughts on…”
  • “Say more about that.”  (This is excellent to use when someone makes a strong statement…it uncovers the thought process behind the statement.)
  • “Can you share with me more specific details around what happened.”
  • ” I am curious as to why… What do you think?”

Taking the time to uncover truth ALWAYS pays off in the end. It avoids heartache, misunderstandings, bad decisions and regrets in the future. It heals hurting relationships, uncovers bottlenecks in businesses, clarifies confusion and protects progress. What questions do you need to ask? For more help and information, check out our services at Jazz Business Consulting under Deliberate Dialogues.