I believe I’ve discovered a new superpower. I can’t come up with a gender neutral name so I will call it both “askman” and “askwoman.”
I feel so strongly about it I actually wanted to create a comic book where my superhero demonstrated the power of asking questions in various situations. I couldn’t convince anyone it was a good idea, but I haven’t abandoned it. Let me know what you think.
When I switched from conveying information to asking questions, the experience was transformational. The power of doing so never ceases to amaze me. I expanded my efforts into areas I never considered before.
Here are some recent examples:
A vendor had requested payment of 50% of the contract price up-front. I agreed. When I received his work, it wasn’t up to my standards. It was clear I was going to have to pay someone else to make it right.
I wrote him and told him about my experience. I acknowledged that he had spent considerable time on the project, but noted that I couldn’t use much of what he produced.
I then asked him this question: What do you think is a fair resolution of this situation?
I never would have done that before.
He responded by apologizing for the issues with his work and sent me a check for the full amount of my deposit – which is more generous than I would have requested.
Asking him a question, rather than making a demand, avoided more than conflict. We ended up with a positive feeling about each other.
I was negotiating with a boutique firm to help me market Ask. They sent me a proposal that I didn’t think was complete.
I asked them these questions:
Do you think we should agree now on the final stage of your proposal?
If so, what would you suggest as the terms of our agreement?
They responded by agreeing we should conclude our negotiations and suggested very reasonable terms for the final stage.
In both instances, I was struck by how much less stressful it was to ask questions rather than make demands. Maybe it’s because the other person felt empowered and trusted.
Ask questions. It really is a superpower!