I recently had an employee who got into a bit of a conflict with someone else. They didn’t actually talk to each other but they did exchange a few strongly worded emails.
You know what I”ve learned? Exchanged emails never resolve conflict. It’s a bit like trying to put out a fire by throwing butter on it. Okay maybe that isn’t the best image but you get it.
As I read through their emails I found that both of them had something in common. First of all they both had a position. Second, they both were telling the other person what their position was. But what weren’t they doing? That’s a clue – a question. Neither one had a question for the other.
I’ve learned, mostly the hard way, that telling is not a good strategy for anything other than story telling. People don’t want to be told, they want to be asked.
I’ve written this before but I was really reminded of it while talking one of them through their strategy and asking them – how is that working for you? I was reminded of Seth Godin’s little book, Tribes. He makes this statement:
“People don’t believe what you tell them. They might believe what their friends tell them, but they always believe what they tell themselves.”
I bought a small audio resource a number of years ago called Focus by Asking by Bob Biehl. If you find any resource of his pick it up – he’s a great teacher. Wise and experienced. He recommends that we should have a collection of questions to ask – ask a shallow question get a shallow answer but ask a profound question and get a profound answer. How do you get profound questions – ask good leaders for them and collect them. Here’s his collection – I keep a copy handy.