Ask me no questions and I’ll tell you no lies. That was a song by Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters that came out in the early 70s. And while it might be true that as long as you don’t ask questions you won’t have to hear any lies, it’s also bad for business, for relationships and for you. Because questions are imperative. Ask me no questions and get no information, no insight, no compassion and no perspective.
Questions are one of the ten tools of an advocate. I win my cases in the courtroom with questions and my coaching clients have won more money, more opportunity, more respect and better relationships with questions as well. This week I wanted to share three of my favorite questions.
1-Tell me what you want me to know.
If you’ve read The Elegant Warrior, you know this question/request. Judge Rosemarie Aquilina used it to give the women involved in the Larry Nasser case back some of their power. This request gives power to the person being asked the question. They get to decide where the conversation goes, what’s important and what they want to share. The answerer has the opportunity to allow you to see the question, and them, differently. Start using this question with your clients, your colleagues, your friends and your family and watch your relationships change.
2-How else can I see this?
Another tool of an advocate is perspective. If you want to be a good advocate you have to see things from your jury’s perspective, your opponents’ perspective, and your judge’s perspective. But your Inner Jury, the decider inside of you that chooses what to believe also chooses what to see. Ask yourself this question and you’ll get in the practice of seeing things differently. And that could change your relationships with your Outer Jury and your Inner Jury. What you see is what you get, so if you choose what you see you can change what you get.
3-And what else?
I read this question in Michael Bungay Stanier’s The Coaching Habit and have never forgotten it. He calls it the AWE question, because it opens up so much for the asker and the answerer. This is a Swiss Army knife question–use it any time and any place you want to get better. Whether you want a better relationship, a better team, or a better outcome, try this one on for size.
Ask me no questions and I’ll tell you no lies. Maybe. But I’ll also tell you no truths, no fears, no hopes and no dreams. I think asking questions is worth the risk.